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                                      MUD

                         

                                   Written by

                                  Jeff Nichols







                         
                                                       Shooting Script
                                                    September 16, 2011



          1 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - PREDAWN 1

           ELLIS(14) sits fully-clothed on top of his made bed. He is a
           wiry young man with a few blonde hairs on his upper lip
           struggling desperately to be a mustache.
           His room, cluttered with junk, is dark, quiet and tiny. A
           backpack and an oversized Walkie-Talkie sit next to him.
           The silence is cut by a SQUAWK from the Walkie. Ellis
           quickly grabs it.

                          ELLIS
           I'm comin' out now.

           He crams the Walkie into his backpack and slings it over his
           shoulder. On his feet, he slides open a window at the foot
           of his bed. He's out in one motion.

          2 EXT. HOUSEBOAT - PREDAWN 2

           Ellis skirts alongside the exterior wall of his room on a two-
           foot-wide section of decking.
           He lives on a HOUSEBOAT anchored just off the bank of the
           Arkansas River. The "boat" is really the combination of a
           double wide trailer and a vinyl-sided shack fused together
           atop large flotilla.
           Ellis scurries to the mobile home section of the boat. He
           slips past a barbecue grill and settles underneath a lighted
           window. VOICES come from inside.
           Slowly, Ellis gets on his toes to peer through the window.

          3 INT. ELLIS' KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS 3

           MARY LEE(41) takes a jug of milk out of the refrigerator.
           SENIOR(52) sits at a small table reading a newspaper. The
           mobile home kitchenette is no larger than Ellis' room.

                          MARY LEE
           I just want to have a conversation.
           I just want to talk about it.

           Mary Lee sits down across from Senior, who doesn't look up
           from his paper. Her eyes narrow and she extends a finger
           toward him.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           If you don't look up from that
           goddamn paper...

           She stops before completing the thought.
           After a moment, Senior lowers his paper. He stares across
           the table at his wife. He looks at her with true disdain.

           2.

                         
           His eyes trace down her face and robe before finally settling
           on his cup of coffee. He picks up the cup, takes a sip, and
           sets it back on the table. He raises the paper up.
           Mary Lee's eyes soften. She bites the inside of her cheek to
           keep from crying. Her eyes move to the kitchen window.

          4 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 4

           Ellis quickly ducks and mouths the word "shit."
           He slips under the window toward a metal carport that covers
           a boat, fish cleaning station, and industrial ice machine.
           The entire houseboat is anchored to the shore by two thick
           ropes tied to opposite ends of the flotilla. The ropes
           extend upward into the tops of enormous pine trees.
           Ellis sprints across a simple, wood-planked bridge to shore.
           His houseboat is one of several in a row along the riverbank.

          5 EXT. ELLIS' RIVERBANK - CONTINUOUS 5

           Ellis scurries into the treeline and arrives at a dirt path.
           Waiting for him there is NECKBONE(14), a scrawny kid with
           slicked back blonde hair wearing a FUGAZI T-shirt. He sits
           atop a smallish dirt bike. Ellis hops on the back.

                          NECKBONE
           What the shit man?

                          ELLIS
           Suck it. Drive.
           The bike spits up mud as they peel out down the trail.

          6 EXT. RIVERBANK - PREDAWN 6

           From a distance, the single headlight of the dirt bike snakes
           up and down, in and out of trees along the riverbank.

           ON THE BIKE,
           The sound of the engine rips through fog and trees
           illuminated by the straining headlight.

          7 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAWN 7

           The boys emerge from behind a sand covered hill. Now on
           foot, they are silhouetted against a light blue, morning sky.

                          NECKBONE
           How old is she?

                          ELLIS
           A Junior.

           3.

                         
           At a collection of trees growing out of the water, the boys
           move branches away from a tarp covered boat.

                          NECKBONE
           She's got nice titties. You talk
           to her?

                          ELLIS
           Nah.

                          NECKBONE
           You're gonna have to talk to her.

                          ELLIS
           I know.

                          NECKBONE
           Remind me when we get back to my
           house, Galen's got a book on that.
           Neckbone takes a spot up front in the small, flat-bottom
           boat. Ellis, a foot on the bank and one in the boat,
           launches them out into the water.

          8 EXT. RIVER - MORNING 8

           A chunk of Neckbone's greased back hair bobs in the wind as
           they cruise down river. Ellis steers a small 15 horsepower
           motor. An orange sun is coming up now.
           Neckbone's eyes lock on what's in front of them. Ellis kills
           the motor. Neckbone stands up, a serious look on his face.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit.
           Ellis raises up behind him. He takes a deep breath, nods.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Your dad'd kill us he knew we went
           out there.

                          ELLIS
           I'm not worried about my dad
           killin' us.
           THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER sprawls out in front of them. It's
           enormous.
           Their boat drifts at the mouth of the Arkansas, a small river
           by comparison. The Mississippi is a swirling mess of brown
           water and yellow foam six football fields wide.

                          NECKBONE
           What if it sinks?

           4.

                         

                          ELLIS
           It ain't gonna sink. We gotta move
           if we're gonna make it back. Set
           your watch. We'll need a good
           fifteen minutes.
           Neckbone sets an alarm on his fat plastic wristwatch. They
           take their seats. Ellis cranks the motor.
           The small boat slowly chugs out onto the massive river.

          9 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - MORNING 9

           The boat lurches through the murky, rushing water.
           Neckbone has both hands firmly planted on the boat's edges.
           Ellis tries to handle the motor which has little impact
           against this current.
           The tail end of the boat swings to the right. Ellis flinches
           and grabs an edge to steady himself. The front of the boat
           bobs toward an ISLAND in the middle of the river.
           Neck turns to Ellis and points.

                          NECKBONE

           THERE IT IS!

          10 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 10

           The boys splash down in ankle deep water. They take hold of
           the front of the boat and drag it onto the muddy shore.
           Neckbone jogs to a tree line in the center of the island.
           Ellis snatches up his backpack and follows.

          11 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - CONTINUOUS 11

           The island, only 60 some yards in diameter, is separated by a
           clump of tall trees that form a wooded area in its center.
           The trees make it so you can't see from one side of the
           island to the other.

                          NECKBONE
           Galen thinks it's been here awhile.
           Thinks the last flood did it.
           Ellis follows as Neckbone winds through the trees. They stop
           at a deep creek that cuts across the island. Neckbone looks
           to his right, then his left. Sees what he's looking for.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           It's down there.
           A fallen tree trunk that straddles the creek. Ellis starts
           across.

           5.

                         

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Hold it.
           Neckbone picks a large stone up off the ground.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Look.
           Eight feet below the tree trunk, a nest of water moccasins
           curl around in the creek. Neckbone drops the stone on top of
           them. The snakes fan out.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Little shits.
           Their mud-caked high-tops stomp across the trunk.

          12 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - DAY 12

           The boys stop near the base of a large tree and stare up.
           Ellis cranes his neck back. Awestruck.

                          NECKBONE
           So there it is.

                          ELLIS
           Yeah, there it is.
           A 26 Foot Long BOAT sits nestled in the tree limbs above.

          13 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - MOMENTS LATER 13

           The boys scale up the tree from low lying branches.
           Ellis, hands on the edge of the boat, gets a leg over the
           side and pulls himself onto the deck. He reaches down and
           helps to drag Neckbone on board.
           They get to their feet, steadying themselves on the wooden
           deck. It's solid. They take in their new vantage point.

                          ELLIS
           It came down from up there.
           Ellis points to higher limbs that have long been broken off.
           Neckbone walks to the back of the boat and hangs his head
           over. He finds a gaping hole of gutted wood.

                          NECKBONE
           Motor broke off.
           Ellis isn't concerned with the motor. His eyes are locked on
           a covered cabin at the front of the boat.

                          ELLIS
           Who else knows about this?

           6.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           Just me and Galen.

                          ELLIS
           What's he think?

                          NECKBONE
           He don't care about it.

                          ELLIS
           Good.
           Ellis walks to the cabin. He pushes a vinyl door open.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           'Cause this boat's ours.
           Ellis has to duck down to go inside. Neckbone follows.

          14 INT. BOAT CABIN - CONTINUOUS 14

           Ellis, stooping over, makes his way into the tiny cabin room.
           Yellow floral curtains, stained with age, cover a row of
           windows that wrap around the top of the cabin. These provide
           an odd glow in an otherwise dark, wood paneled space.
           There is a bench with rotted out cushions to the left. To
           the right, a mold-covered sink and mirror.
           Neckbone peers over Ellis' shoulder at the front of the cabin
           room. A small booth sits to the right across from a
           miniature toilet partially shielded by an open door.

                          NECKBONE
           It's got its own shitbox
           Neckbone slides back a portion of floral curtain and light
           streams in. He starts opening small closets and drawers.
           Ellis plops down on the rotted bench cushions.

                          ELLIS
           This is perfect.

                          NECKBONE
           Ho-Lee-Shit.
           Neckbone stares in an open drawer. He removes a stack of
           Playboys from the 1980's.
           Ellis smiles at him. He leans back and props his foot
           against the sink cabinet across from him. This is home.
           Neckbone opens the first Playboy. It disintegrates.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Aw shit.

           7.

                         
          As he scrambles to gather the fallen pages, Ellis notices a
          dried BOOT PRINT next to his foot. He lowers his shoe from
          the cabinet leaving a smaller, muddy print of his own.
          He leans in to examine the larger print. The impression of a
          CROSS has been left in the heel.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Her tits are so small.
          Ellis reaches out and traces his finger in the groove of the
          cross marking. His eyes narrow as he re-surveys the cabin.
          On the table across from the toilet, he notices several empty
          cans of Beanie Weenie. In the booth, he sees a grocery bag.
          Ellis slowly raises up and goes over to it.

                          ELLIS
           Neck.

                          NECKBONE
           Look at that beave. You gotta see
           this.
          Ellis reaches out for the plastic bag. His fingers pull back
          the edges to reveal its contents: one can of unopened Beanie
          Weenie and half a loaf of BREAD.

                          ELLIS
           Neck.
          Ellis reaches for the bread and gives it a squeeze. It's
          FRESH. Ellis freezes.

                          NECKBONE
           What?

                          ELLIS
           Someone's here.

                          NECKBONE
           What?
          Ellis holds the loaf of bread up to Neckbone.

                          ELLIS
           Someone's livin' here.
          Neckbone sees the grocery bag. His eyes widen. The boys are
          stone frozen. They listen for other sounds. Silence.

          BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
          Both boys flinch at the sharp sounds. Neckbone's hand flies
          to cover the alarm on his wristwatch.

           8.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           Shit.

                          ELLIS
           We gotta go. I can't be late.

          15 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - MOMENTS LATER 15

           They drop out of the tree and hit the ground running.

          16 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - MOMENTS LATER 16

           The boys' feet rush across the tree trunk bridging the creek.

          17 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - MOMENTS LATER 17

           They launch out of the treeline and sprint to their boat.
           Neckbone grabs the side and starts pushing the boat to the
           water. Ellis slings his backpack in and joins him.
           Suddenly, Ellis straightens up, leaving Neckbone to struggle.

                          NECKBONE
           What are you doing?
           Ellis stares at a muddy boot print, cross in the heel,
           stamped in the center of their boat. He looks back to the
           treeline, then down the shore. He looks to his feet.
           The boys' shoe prints make chaotic patterns in the mud.
           Larger boot prints lead off down the shoreline.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           What is it?

                          ELLIS

                          (POINTING)
           I saw that same boot print up in
           the tree. It has a cross in the
           heel. Somebody's been in our boat.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit. Let's go.
           Ellis begins following the boot prints around the shoreline.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           We gotta go if you wanna make it
           back.

                          (NO RESPONSE)
           Your dad's gonna kick our ass.
           It'll take twice as long goin' up
           river.

                          ELLIS
           Hold it.

           9.

                         
          Ellis stops and points ahead of them.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Up there. They stop.
          Neckbone takes the lead, walking up to the last boot print.
          They appear to vanish.

                          NECKBONE
           Where the hell'd he go?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know.
          Neckbone turns and freezes. A MAN has appeared in the
          distance behind Ellis. He stands between the boys and their
          boat.
          Ellis notices the look on Neckbone's face and turns. He
          flinches at the sight of the Man.
          MUD(38) stands near the boys' boat holding a pink, child's
          fishing pole with cartoon characters on it. He stares back
          at them and casts his fishing line into the water.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit. You know that guy?

                          ELLIS
           I've never seen him before.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit.
          Mud, not taking his eyes off the boys, slowly reels in his
          line. His hair is a wild mop that leads to two weeks of
          growth on his face.
          With a cigarette clinched, he cracks a smile revealing a
          MISSING CANINE. He holds a hand in the air as if to wave.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Shit.
          Neckbone slowly raises his hand up to wave back. Mud wears
          jeans and cowboy boots. His filthy button-up shirt looks
          like it hasn't left his body in years.
          He breaks his stare with the boys. Continuing to reel in his
          line, he walks over to them.

                          MUD
           What you say?
          The boys don't respond. Mud walks past them and casts again.

           10.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Helluva thing.

                          ELLIS
           What's that?
          Mud takes the cigarette from his mouth. A tattoo of a
          snake's head covers the top of his right hand. Two large
          cotton blossoms spill out of its jaws.

                          MUD
           Boat in the trees. It's a helluva
           thing.
          Mud continues walking down the shoreline, reeling in his
          bait. The boys follow, tentatively.

                          ELLIS
           You talkin' 'bout our boat?

                          MUD
           I'm talkin' about my boat.

                          NECKBONE
           We found it.

                          MUD
           You found it with me livin' in it.
           Possession is nine tenths of the
           law.

                          NECKBONE
           So?

                          MUD
           Don't tell me you boys are from
           Mississippi?

                          ELLIS
           No.
          They watch as he grabs the bait at the end of his line and
          spits on it. Then, tucking the pole under his arm, he ties a
          lock of his hair into a knot. He finishes this process with
          another cast.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           You got crosses in your heels.

                          MUD
           Nails. Shaped liked crosses.

                          ELLIS
           What for?

           11.

                         

                          MUD
           Ward off evil spirits. A man I
           called an Indian but was Meskin
           said they were Seven-league boots
           worn by the seventh son of a
           seventh son. Told me it'd turn me
           into a werewolf but that's a lie.
           I don't know nothin' about that.
          Ellis, confused, won't take his eyes off the man.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           They just good luck, but so far
           they ain't been workin' too well.
           (missing tooth smile)
           What's your name?
          Mud seems easy to smile, which softens his otherwise coarse
          look. His words spill from the mouth rapidly, without much
          thought for punctuation. Neckbone, emboldened by these
          facts, steps forward to answer.

                          NECKBONE
           I'm Neckbone, he's Ellis, and
           mister you may be stone ass crazy
           but I know you're not the owner of
           that boat, not for nine tenths of
           nothin'.

                          MUD
           Neckbone? That's a real handle
           son. Where ya'll from?

                          NECKBONE
           What do you care where we're from?

                          ELLIS
           DeWitt.
          Neckbone looks at Ellis, frustrated by his friend.

                          MUD
           Arkansas boys. Ya'll had me
           worried for a second.
          Mud, pleased by this news, tucks the fishing pole under his
          arm and holds out a hand to shake. Ellis stares at the hand,
          unsure. He takes it reluctantly.

                          ELLIS
           We s'posed to know you?

                          MUD
           I doubt it. I grew up `round here,
           but I've been gone awhile.

           12.

                         

                          ELLIS
           Where around here?

                          MUD
           Different places. Spent a lot of
           time back up near the White.

                          ELLIS
           You know Shelly's Oxbow?
          Neckbone can't believe his friend is offering this up.

                          NECKBONE
           Ellis. We gotta go.

                          MUD
           I know it. Guy named Tom
           Blankenship used to live back in
           there.

                          ELLIS
           He still does. His boat's cross
           from mine.
          Mud smiles.

                          MUD
           Ain't that somethin'.
          In one motion, Mud flicks his cigarette away and grabs a pack
          out of his shirt pocket.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I like you two. You remind me of
           me. And seeing how you boys are
           from Arkansas and we know some
           people and sounds like we all from
           the same place I'd say we can make
           a deal here about somethin'.

                          ELLIS
           A deal for what?

                          MUD
           Food. Food for a boat.

                          NECKBONE
           This guy's a bum Ellis. Come on.
          Mud's smile vanishes. Neckbone begins to walk off but
          begrudgingly stops when Ellis starts back in.

                          ELLIS
           Why don't you go get your own food?

           13.

                         

                          MUD
           I would if I could, but I told
           somebody I'd meet `em here. So I'm
           stuck for now and what I got's
           runnin' low.
           Neckbone walks back and pulls Ellis by the arm.

                          NECKBONE
           He's a bum Ellis, let's go.
           Mud lays a serious look down on Neckbone.

                          MUD
           I'm no bum. I got money. You can
           call me a hobo `cause a hobo'll
           work for his living and you can
           call me homeless `cause that's true
           for now, but if you call me a bum
           again I'll have to teach you
           somethin' about respect that your
           daddy never did.
           Neckbone's confidence recedes. Ellis stands his ground.

                          ELLIS
           When they show up, you'll leave?
           Mud begins fishing again.

                          MUD
           Yeah.

                          ELLIS
           And when you leave, that boat's
           ours?

                          MUD
           Yeah.
           Ellis studies Mud's face, clothes, tattoos. He's thinking
           about it. Mud pauses from fishing to make eye contact.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I'm in a tight spot. I just need a
           little help.

                          ELLIS
           We gotta go.
           With that, Ellis turns to leave. The boys walk briskly back
           to their boat. Ellis looks over his shoulder to see Mud
           making another cast with his fishing pole.

          18 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - MOMENTS LATER 18

           Ellis motors them away from the island.

           14.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You get his name?!

                          NECKBONE
           No!
           Ellis looks back. Mud has disappeared.

          19 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DAY 19

           Senior heaves an enormous, white cooler into the bed of his
           weathered pick-up truck.
           The truck is parked at an angle on a concrete boat ramp next
           to their houseboat. The bed of the truck is jam-packed with
           six of the big, white coolers.
           The SOUND of a dirt bike rattles through the trees. Senior
           looks up, wiping his brow with a handkerchief.
           Ellis leaps out of the treeline and runs to the pick-up. His
           hands hit his knees, out of breath.

                          ELLIS
           I'm sorry.

                          SENIOR
           Where you been?

                          ELLIS
           Neck and I got caught up helpin'
           Galen.

                          SENIOR
           You're s'posed to be helpin' me. I
           had to load this myself.

                          ELLIS
           I know, I'm sorry.

                          SENIOR
           Just get in the back. Can't be
           later than we are.

                          ELLIS
           Yessir.
           Senior flips up the tailgate. Ellis hops up the wheel well
           and into the bed of the truck. He steadies himself on one of
           the coolers as his father pulls away.

                         

           EXT. DEWITT/MONTAGE - DAY


           SERIES OF IMAGES:

           15.

                         
          20 -Ellis looks around as he rides in the bed of the pick-up 20
           truck. He's propped up on a cooler against the back window.
           The truck works its way down a two-lane highway.
          A20 -Driving, they pass a marina junkyard filled with old boats A20
           and sailing paraphernalia.
          B20 -Downtown Dewitt. A gas station. A Clinic. Rows of red B20
           brick buildings, some abandoned, a small furniture store.
          C20 -Parked, Ellis fills a grocery sack up with Ziplock bags fullC20
           of white fish and ice out of the coolers.
           -He hops out of the truck and runs the sack of fish to the
           front door of a house. An elderly black man waits there.

          21 EXT. SONIC DRIVE-IN - DAY 21

           Ellis sits in the bed of the truck eating a chili dog.
           Senior is up front wolfing down a cheeseburger.
           A GROUP of TEENAGERS are gathered around a CLUSTER of parked
           cars in the corner of the lot. They meander between the
           vehicles, smoking, gossiping, passing around a bottle of
           Boone's Farm. Ellis watches them.
           MAY PEARL(16) appears in the middle of the Group laughing
           with her GIRLFRIENDS. She's pretty and physically more
           mature looking than Ellis.
           He watches as a SKINNY KID takes his ballcap off and puts it
           on May Pearl's head. She sniffs the cap, gags and tosses it
           back at him. Her friends laugh.

                          SENIOR
           Let's go son.
           Ellis crumples the wrapper to his finished hotdog and jumps
           down from the bed of the truck.

          22 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/TWO-LANE ROAD - MOVING - DAY 22
           Ellis rides up front with his father.
           Senior is a reserved man, older than Ellis' mother by several
           years. He's got thinning hair under the cap that only leaves
           his head when he sleeps.
           He reaches into his shirt pocket and fishes out a fold of
           cash. He slips out a five dollar bill and hands it to Ellis.

                          ELLIS
           It's s'posed to be ten.

           16.

                         

                          SENIOR
           It's ten you do your share. I
           loaded this mornin'. That makes it
           five.
           Ellis begrudgingly stuffs the five in his jeans.

                          ELLIS
           You drop me at Neck's?
           Senior checks his pants pockets, feels around under his seat.

                          SENIOR
           Hadn't you seen enougha him today?

                          ELLIS
           Said he had something for me.

                          SENIOR
           You see anymore Ding Dongs over
           there?
           Ellis checks under his seat and pulls out a half-empty box of
           Ding Dongs. Hands one over to his father who rips the
           package with his teeth.

                          ELLIS
           What'd Momma wanna talk to you
           about?

                          SENIOR
           What?

                          ELLIS
           This mornin', what'd she wanna talk
           with you about?

                          SENIOR
           You spy on me in my own house?

                          ELLIS
           I wasn't spyin', just heard ya'll.

                          SENIOR
           That's your mother's business.
           Senior makes this his answer, eats the Ding Dong.

          23 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - DAY 23

           Neckbone sits on the front steps of his trailer reading a
           comic book. The muffled sound of the Beach Boys' "Help Me
           Rhonda" plays off a record inside.
           Senior's truck pulls away as Ellis walks up the entrance to
           the trailer park.

           17.

                         

                          ELLIS
           I came by for that book.

                          NECKBONE
           What book?

                          ELLIS
           You said Galen had a book might
           help me out.

                          NECKBONE
           Aw, yeah. We gotta give it a
           minute. You hear that music?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          NECKBONE
           That means he's doin' it. That's
           his doin' it song.
          Ellis takes a seat next to Neckbone. They listen to the
          song, slightly craning their necks to pick up on any other
          sounds. There are none.

                          ELLIS
           You know who it is?

                          NECKBONE
           Whoever's drivin' that white Dodge.
          Neckbone motions to a beat up Dodge Shadow in the yard.

                          ELLIS
           You tell Galen 'bout this morning?

                          NECKBONE
           Nah. You tell anybody?

                          ELLIS
           No.

                          NECKBONE
           That guy was crazy.

                          ELLIS
           Maybe. I don't know. I think he
           just needed some help.

                          NECKBONE
           Well he can swim his ass off that
           island and get some.

                          ELLIS
           I think I'm gonna go back, take him
           some food.

           18.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           Why?
          Suddenly, the music from inside stops. Footsteps approaching
          and the trailer door flies open, almost hitting the boys.
          A GIRL(28) bursts out down the steps, straight to her car.
          She wears tight jean-shorts and is buttoning a white shirt.
          She stops and turns back to the boys.

                          GIRL
           You're Neckbone right?

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah.

                          GIRL
           You look like a good enough kid. A
           word of advice, don't grow up to be
           like your shit heel uncle.
          The boys can't take their eyes off her cleavage revealed
          under her half-buttoned shirt. A necklace with three
          misshapen pearls hangs from her neck.

                          GIRL (CONT'D)
           Hey!
          She snaps the boys' attention up to her eyes.

                          GIRL (CONT'D)
           You hear me? You treat a woman
           like a princess. Got it?!

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah.
          The trailer door opens and GALEN(36) emerges. He's a big,
          lumbering guy wearing a full-body wet suit pulled halfway
          down. A faded mermaid tattooed in the middle of his chest.

                          GALEN
           Come on baby.

                          GIRL

           I'M A GODDAMN PRINCESS!!!
          The Girl yanks off the necklace and hurls it at Galen. He
          brushes fingers through his thick mustache.

                          GALEN
           That's uncalled for.
          He walks out to her. She heads for the Dodge Shadow.

           19.

                         

                          GALEN (CONT'D)

                          (TRAILING OFF)
           A lot of people are comfortable
           with that kind of thing in the
           bedroom. Some people aren't. We
           know that about you now...
           Ellis sees one of the misshapen pearls at his feet. He picks
           it up and holds it to the sun.

                          NECKBONE
           Pearls. Galen finds 'em in some of
           the mussel shells. Most of 'em
           ain't worth dick, but he likes to
           make necklaces for the girls. Come
           on, let's get that book.
           Neckbone walks into the trailer. Ellis stands up and
           retrieves the other two pearls out of the dirt. He crams
           them in his pocket and follows Neckbone inside.

          24 INT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS 24

           The trailer is decorated in the filth of a true bachelor pad.
           Neckbone makes his way to a bedroom. He tosses clothes and
           trash around to get to what he's looking for. A cardboard
           box. He pulls the box onto the bed and sifts through.

                          NECKBONE
           I don't want you goin' back out
           there by yourself. That river's
           scary enough with two people, and I
           don't trust that guy.

                          (FINDS SOMETHING)
           Here it is.
           He takes out a hardback book. The slip reads, "The Confident
           Confidant, communicating with the opposite sex."

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Galen said this really turned
           things around for him.

                          ELLIS
           Thanks.
           Ellis flips delicately through the manual.

          25 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS 25

           Galen watches as the Girl's Dodge Shadow pulls away. The
           boys step out of the trailer.

                          NECKBONE
           You really going back out there?

           20.

                         

                          ELLIS
           I think it's the right thing to do.

                          NECKBONE
           Well...I'll be over in the mornin'
           then.
           Galen, his thumbs tucked under his armpits, walks back to the
           trailer. He passes the boys and notices the self-help book
           in Ellis' hands.

                          GALEN

                          (WITHOUT STOPPING)
           That's a good book. Be sure you do
           the worksheets in the back. Let's
           get some dinner Neck.
           Galen's gone inside.

                          NECKBONE
           I'll call 'fore I come.

                          ELLIS
           All right.
           Neckbone follows his uncle into the trailer. Ellis flips
           through his new book as he heads out of the trailer park.

          26 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 26

           By the time Ellis makes it to his houseboat, the sun has
           disappeared behind the horizon.
           He crosses the make-shift plank and enters through a screen
           door by the carport.

          27 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS 27

           Mary Lee flinches when she sees Ellis come through the door.
           Her face is flushed. Senior stands toe to toe with her.
           They stare at Ellis, who has paused in the doorway. He
           doesn't say anything, just looks curiously at his parents.
           Senior storms past Ellis and is out the door.
           Ellis steps further into the den. Mary Lee tries to
           straighten herself, patting down her hair and dabbing at her
           eyes with the back of her hand.

                          ELLIS
           You okay momma?

                          MARY LEE
           Yes.

           21.

                         
           She walks into the kitchen keeping Ellis at her back. She
           turns on the sink and begins scrubbing at a dish.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           Do you need me to fix you
           somethin'? Have you eaten?

                          ELLIS
           I'm all right.
           Mary Lee shuts off the water and lets the dish rest in the
           sink. She turns to Ellis.

                          MARY LEE
           I'm gonna turn in.

                          ELLIS
           Okay momma.
           Mary Lee slips past him and enters her bedroom. The door
           closes and Ellis is left alone in the den. It's quiet. He
           waits, looking at the door his mother just closed.
           Ellis walks into the kitchen and eases open a cabinet door.
           Checking over his shoulder, he zips his backpack open and
           fills it with CANNED FOOD.

          28 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - DAY 28

           Hands pump the stock of a high-powered pellet gun.
           TOM BLANKENSHIP(67), white hair cut high and tight wearing a
           short-sleeve button up, takes careful aim with the pellet
           gun.
           Tom sits in a lawn chair atop the roof of his houseboat. He
           squeezes his left eye shut.
           A snake's head pokes out of the water about 15 yards off his
           boat. The head makes for a target no bigger than a thumb.
           Tom's left eye snaps open and he fires. The pellet rips
           through the snake's head. Its body floats to the surface.
           Tom takes account of his shot as he pumps the air rifle. He
           scans the water for more targets.

          29 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 29

           Ellis watches Tom Blankenship from across the bayou. Tom's
           boat sits directly opposite Ellis', separated by 30 yards of
           muddy brown water.
           Ellis leans against a post under the carport. His backpack
           resting at his feet, he holds the Walkie-Talkie in his hand.
           Senior works behind him washing utensils in the outdoor sink.

           22.

                         

                          ELLIS
           What do you know about Tom
           Blankenship?

                          SENIOR
           What?
           Senior doesn't turn around from his work at the sink.

                          ELLIS
           Mr. Blankenship, what do you know
           about him?

                          SENIOR
           Why?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know. He looks lonely over
           there.

                          SENIOR
           Some people move to this river to
           work on it, and some move here to
           be left alone.
           Senior makes his way to the ice machine and begins scooping
           ice into a large white cooler.
           Mary Lee emerges from the houseboat dressed for work, a
           secretarial job. Senior stops what he's doing to watch her.
           She walks over to Ellis.

                          MARY LEE
           Let's sit down for dinner tonight
           okay? Will you make it home by
           seven?

                          ELLIS
           Yes ma'am.
           She walks off the boat without a glance in Senior's
           direction. He trails her with his eyes before going back to
           digging in the ice.
          A29 Ellis looks back at Tom. The Walkie SQUAWKS out several A29
           loud BEEPS. Ellis crams it in his backpack and runs off the
           boat.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Bye Dad.
           Senior holds a hand up but never looks up from his work.

           23.

                         

          30 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 30

           Water laps at the shore of the island. Ellis and Neckbone
           drag their boat onto the muddy bank.

                          NECKBONE
           Where you think he's at?

                          ELLIS
           I guess we should try the boat.
           They head for the treeline.

          31 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 31

           The boys emerge from the woods, their attention focused up to
           the boat hovering in the tree some twenty feet above them.
           Ellis notices the remnants of a fire on the ground. A log
           pushed up next to it for a seat. Ellis kicks at the ash.

                          ELLIS
           Looks like he made camp.

                          NECKBONE
           (looking up to the boat)
           You think he's up there?

           MUD (O.S.)
           I didn't know if ya'll'd come back.
           The boys spin around. They survey the woods but no one's
           there. Their eyes drift up to find Mud sitting in a tree,
           his legs dangle off a branch.

                          ELLIS
           What're you doin'?
           Mud bounds down, stepping from limb to trunk to the ground.
           It's an agile move.

                          MUD
           I try to never sleep in the same
           place twice. What you got there?
           Mud motions with his head to the backpack in Ellis' hand.
           Ellis holds it out to him.

                          ELLIS
           I brought you some food.
           Mud looks at the backpack, but doesn't move.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Go on.

           24.

                         
          Mud takes the backpack and walks over to the ashes of his
          campfire. He squats with his back to the boys and unzips the
          bag. Hunkered down, Mud's shirttail rides up over the lip of
          his jeans revealing a PISTOL at his backside.
          Ellis sees this and motions to Neckbone. The boys stand
          their ground, cautious.

                          MUD
           I owe you boys.
          Keeping the bag in hand, Mud takes a seat on the stump behind
          him. He pulls out a selection of canned food; pumpkin pie
          filling, evaporated milk, green beans. He grabs the beans.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I was gonna try runnin' a trot line
           today. See how far that'd get me.
          Mud removes a good-sized folding knife from his pocket and
          makes short order of the can lid. He tips the can up letting
          the beans fall into his mouth. Juice flows down his cheeks.

                          MUD (CONT'D)

                          (A MOUTHFUL)
           I'd been rationin' what I
           had...green bean never tasted so
           good.
          The can is quickly emptied, juice running down Mud's chin.
          He straightens his back, choking down the final swallow. He
          sees the boys staring at him and catches himself.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I appreciate it.

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          NECKBONE
           What you got that pistol for?
          Mud wipes off his chin, realizing the boys have been studying
          him. He closes the knife and tucks it in his pocket.

                          MUD
           For protection.
          Mud gets up, heads for a duffel bag tucked under a nearby
          tree. The boys pivot, keeping Mud in front of them. Mud
          notices.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Ya'll don't have to be afraid of
           me. I have two ways to protect
           myself out here. This shirt, and
           this pistol.

                          (MORE)

           25.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           There are fierce powers at work in
           the world boys. Good, evil, poor
           luck, best luck. Men have to take
           advantage where they can.
           Mud removes a spool of fishing line and a small plastic
           tackle box. He scoops up the duffel bag and heads into the
           woods.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Ya'll comin'?
          32 Neckbone looks to Ellis, who walks after Mud into the 32
           trees.

                          ELLIS
           Who's this guy you're waitin' on?

                          MUD
           I'm not waitin' for a guy. I'm
           waitin' on my girlfriend. Juniper.

                          NECKBONE
           Is she hot?

                          MUD
           She's beautiful.

                          NECKBONE

                          (COUGHING)
           Bullshit.

                          MUD
           Best lookin' girl I've ever seen.
           Hands down. Blonde hair. Long
           legs. She's like a dream you don't
           want to wake up from. She's got
           birds tattooed on her hands, here.
           Mud stops, points to the area on the top of his right hand,
           between his thumb and pointer finger.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Nightingales. Good luck birds.

                          NECKBONE
           That a good luck snake?

                          MUD
           No it is not.

                          NECKBONE
           I hate snakes.

                          MUD
           That's because God made them for us
           to fear.

                          (MORE)

           26.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           It's a thing we knew to be afraid
           of before we even got into this
           world.
          33 They emerge from the woods onto the downstream coast of 33
           the island. It looks different than the other shoreline.
           A large swath of red clay angles sharply into the water.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Cherokee would wrap snake skin
           around their pregnant women's
           bellies. Induce labor, scare the
           child out. Here.
           He fetches a length of rope out of the duffel bag and tosses
           it to Neckbone.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Set that `round your bed at night.
           Snake won't cross braided rope.

                          NECKBONE
           Thanks.
           (nods to Mud's tattoo)
           So what's that for then?
           Mud walks to a tree branch that has grown out over the bank,
           nearly resting in the water. He sets a trot line from it.

                          MUD
           A reminder. Don't get bit. I was
           10, swimmin' `bout a mile up from
           here. Me and Juniper. Sonofabitch
           swam right up under me, bit me just
           below the armpit. June got me out,
           got me to a clinic. Doctor said I
           shoulda been dead in twenty
           minutes. Took us an hour just to
           get back to town.

                          NECKBONE
           What'd they do?

                          MUD
           Gave me antivenom. For a cotton
           mouth. See here.
           Mud shows the tattoo on top of his right hand. He points out
           the two cotton blossoms bulging from the snake's mouth.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Problem with antivenom is they can
           only give it to you once. It's
           made from horse blood. Your body
           would reject it a second time. The
           cure ends up being more dangerous
           than the poison.

           27.

                         

                          ELLIS
           What happens if you get bit again?

                          MUD
           I die, or just sweat it out.
           Neckbone, not buying it, looks at Ellis and taps his watch.

                          ELLIS
           We gotta go help Neck's uncle.

                          MUD
           All right.

                          ELLIS
           You never said your name.

                          MUD
           Mud. You can call me Mud.

                          ELLIS
           Mud?

                          MUD

           M-U-D.
           Neckbone tosses the braided rope back. It lands at his feet.

                          NECKBONE
           Here you go, Mud. I think you need
           that worse than I do.

                          MUD

                          (SMILING)
           I'll be all right.
           The boys disappear back into the trees.

          34 INT. GARY'S ELECTRIC SHOP - DAY 34

           A switch clicks "ON". BLINDING LIGHT emits from two FLOOD
           LAMPS encased in plastic shells. The switch clicks "OFF" and
           the lights dim to the dull orange glow of their filaments.

                          GALEN
           They look bright enough.
           The owner of the shop, an ELECTRICIAN(62), holds up a metal
           bar with the lamps affixed by bolts at either end.

                          ELECTRICIAN
           Should be. I rigged DC power up
           through marine batteries. Makes it
           portable. Gave you a rigging bar
           to set on your shoulder.

           28.

                         

                          GALEN
           So you really think these'll work
           under water?

                          ELECTRICIAN
           In theory.

          35 EXT. GARY'S ELECTRIC/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 35

           Ellis and Neckbone sit on the tailgate of Galen's truck. The
           Gary's Electric sign hangs behind them.
           Neckbone focuses on a carburetor in his hand. Ellis stares
           across the street at the Piggly Wiggly parking lot where the
           roving GROUP of TEENAGERS have collected for the afternoon.
           The Teenagers are up to their typical gossip and minor
           offenses. Ellis has zeroed in on May Pearl again.

                          NECKBONE
           You start datin' I bet her dad'll
           give you a free pick-up truck.

                          ELLIS
           I don't care about that.
           Ellis watches as the same Skinny Kid from before tries to
           flirt with her. She's not having it. He pops her bra strap
           before landing the final straw, a smack on her ass. She
           turns and swats at him.
           Seeing this, Ellis is on his feet and crossing the street.

                          NECKBONE
           What's goin' on?
           Ellis doesn't turn back. Neckbone reluctantly sets the
           carburetor down and follows.

          36 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 36


                          MAY PEARL
           Stop it!
           She shoves the Skinny Kid, but he continues laughing.

           ELLIS (O.S.)
           Hey.
           Ellis taps the Kid on the shoulder. As he turns, Ellis
           PUNCHES him in the face.
           The Kid, completely taken off guard, stumbles and trips to
           the ground. Some older, tougher looking GUYS see this and
           begin laughing at him.

           29.

                         

                          OLDER KID
           Holy shit Pryor, get off your ass.
          Pryor collects himself and gets off the ground. Ego bruised,
          he walks off mumbling. The Older Kids keep riding him.
          May Pearl sizes up Ellis.

                          MAY PEARL
           You didn't have to do that.

                          ELLIS
           He was messin' with you.

                          MAY PEARL
           Do I know you?

                          ELLIS
           I'm Ellis. That's Neck.
          Neckbone waves by wagging a finger in the air.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           We went to Junior High with you,
           before you went to High School.

                          MAY PEARL
           How old are you?

                          ELLIS
           Fourteen.

                          MAY PEARL
           Fourteen? You know you just
           punched a Senior?

                          ELLIS
           So?

                          MAY PEARL
           You think you're pretty tough.
          Ellis shrugs, not wanting to deny it.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           I'm May Pearl.

                          ELLIS
           I know.

                          MAY PEARL
           What else do you know?

                          ELLIS
           Nothin'.
          She smiles.

           30.

                         
          Something catches Neckbone's attention. He cranes his neck
          forward to get a better look.

                          NECKBONE
           Son of a bitch...Ellis?
          Ellis breaks away from his conversation with May Pearl.

                          ELLIS
           What?

                          NECKBONE
           Look.
          Neckbone nods to a cheap motel called the EXECUTIVE INN
          located on the opposite side of the Piggly Wiggly parking
          lot.
          JUNIPER(35), a truly beautiful woman squeezed into tight
          jeans and a low cut top, makes her way from the motel parking
          lot to the Piggly Wiggly.
          She passes in front of the cluster of Teenagers. All of the
          boys have taken note. Some cat calls from the crowd.
          Juniper, without facing the Teenagers, gives them the finger.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           You ever seen that girl before?

                          ELLIS
           No. Did you see her hands?

                          MAY PEARL
           Hello?
          Ellis catches himself and turns back to May Pearl.

                          ELLIS
           Sorry. We know a guy we think
           might know that girl.

                          MAY PEARL
           Oh.
          A GIRLFRIEND(17) of May Pearl's calls out to her.

                          GIRLFRIEND
           May Pearl! Let's go!

                          MAY PEARL
           Okay!

                          ELLIS
           I guess I'll see you.

           30A.

                         

                          MAY PEARL
          If you can find my phone number,
          you should call it.

           31.

                         

                          ELLIS
           I can find it.
           May Pearl walks over to her friend. Ellis watches her go,
           but then remembers Juniper. He turns to Neckbone.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Where'd she go?

                          NECKBONE
           Into the Piggly Wiggly. She came
           from the motel.

                          ELLIS
           I'm gonna go see if it's her.

                          NECKBONE
           I gotta go check on Galen. We'll
           pick you up out front.
           Ellis heads for the Piggly Wiggly. Neckbone calls after him.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           What'd she say?

                          ELLIS
           Wants me to call her.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit.

          37 INT. PIGGLY WIGGLY - DAY 37

           Ellis walks past the grocery aisles looking for the girl. He
           spots her by the potato chips. He tucks behind a display of
           stacked cans and watches.
           Juniper reaches for a bag of chips, birds tattooed on her
           hand. Ellis smiles. It's her, and she really is beautiful.
           She turns down the aisle, coming right for him. He pretends
           to peruse the canned food and notices that it's a big display
           of Beanie Weenie. He grabs two handfuls as she passes.
           Ellis takes the cans to an open register. As a CASHIER scans
           and bags his items, he cranes his neck looking for her.
           She's disappeared into another section of the store.
           Ellis pays in crumpled cash. A horn HONKS. He sees Galen's
           truck idling out front. He grabs the bag and runs out.

          38 EXT. GALEN'S TRUCK/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 38

           Neckbone waits at the open passenger door.

                          NECKBONE
           Was it her?

           32.

                         

                          ELLIS
           It's her. I saw the tattoos. He
           wasn't lyin'.

                          NECKBONE

                          (LOOKING BACK)
           No he wasn't.

          39 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 39

           By the time Ellis makes it back home, the sun has gone from
           the sky. He crosses the makeshift plank to board his house.

           SENIOR (O.S.)
           Home for dinner?
           Ellis is startled by his father's voice. Senior sits in a
           lawn chair under the eaves of the carport. He's hidden in
           shadow, save for a red glow from the tip of his cigarette.

                          ELLIS
           What you hidin' for?

                          SENIOR
           I ain't hidin'.
           He notices Senior tip back a pint of liquor and set it at his
           feet. Ellis opens the screen door leading inside.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Come over here.
           Ellis lets the door fall shut and skulks over to a beam that
           supports the carport. He leans into it.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           You know I love you?

                          ELLIS
           Yessir. I know.

                          SENIOR
           I work you hard 'cause life is
           work. You know that?

                          ELLIS
           Yessir.

                          SENIOR
           Your Mamma's been talkin' 'bout
           movin' in town.

                          ELLIS
           What's that mean?

           33.

                         

                          SENIOR
           She seems set on it. Wants to
           separate. She may ask me for a
           divorce.
          This hits Ellis like a ton of bricks. He rights himself.

                          ELLIS
           What's that mean for me?

                          SENIOR
           It means enjoy the river son.
           Enjoy it while you live on it,
           'cause this way a life isn't long
           for this world. Game and fish's
           'bout made certain of that.

                          ELLIS
           But you and me can still live out
           here. Game and fish can't take
           your boat. Not while you're still
           in it.

                          SENIOR
           The houseboat's in your mother's
           name. Her daddy give it to her not
           me. If she wants to leave it, Game
           and Fish has ever' right to take
           this boat apart board by board.

                          ELLIS
           But that ain't right. You work
           outta here. We got the ice
           machine, the traps. What are we
           supposed to do?

                          SENIOR
           Like I said, this is your mother's
           business.

                          ELLIS
           I ain't no townie. I ain't livin'
           like that.
          Senior takes a slow pull off the bottle. Ellis' mind races.

                          SENIOR
           I've let you down. A man should be
           in charge of his own affairs, but I
           haven't worked it like that.

                          ELLIS
           But ya'll are married. Ya'll are
           s'posed to love each other.

                          SENIOR
           I don't know about that anymore.

           34.

                         
           Ellis is speechless. After a moment, he turns to go inside.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Ellis?
           He stops and turns back to his father. Senior tries to
           express a sentiment he doesn't have the words for. Ellis
           continues inside.

          40 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 40

           Mary Lee sits hunched at the made dinner table. She runs her
           finger around the rim of a half empty glass of iced tea.
           It's a full spread with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and a
           salad. The table is set for two. She's been waiting.
           Ellis lets the front door slam shut behind him. She sits up.

                          MARY LEE
           You're late.
           Ellis doesn't speak, he doesn't look at her. He enters his
           room and shuts the door.
           He's heard the news and she knows it. Mary Lee's face drops.

          41 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 41

           Ellis slings his backpack down, pacing the small room. He
           stops and leans his forehead against the door. The sound of
           his Mother clearing the table seeps through.
           He kicks the door, cracking its shitty composite wood. His
           face flushed and his breathing heavy, he slides to a seat.
           On the verge of hyperventilating, he stares out the dark
           bedroom window trying to get control of his breathing.
           Ellis looks at his backpack. It has spilled open revealing a
           can of Beanie Weenie. Ellis studies the can.
           He looks back to the window. His breathing settles.
           Quickly, he scoops up the backpack and heads out the window.

          42 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - NIGHT 42

           It's pitch black. The only light comes from the moon's
           reflection off the surface of the water.
           Ellis, eyes wide, navigates the small boat through choppy
           black water.

           35.

                         

          43 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - NIGHT 43

           Ellis struggles to pull the boat onto shore. Leaving it half
           in the water, Ellis looks around. No sign of Mud. He sizes
           up the dark woods.
           He removes a flashlight from his backpack and shines it down
           the shorelines. Still nothing. Ellis follows the beam of
           light into the woods.

          44 EXT. ISLAND WOODS - NIGHT 44

           Ellis stands at the creek that cuts through the island.
           He can make out a campfire glowing through trees in the
           distance. A RUSTLING behind him. He swings the light
           around. Nothing but trees.
           Ellis takes a deep breath. Finding the log to cross, he
           shines his light down into the creek. The nest of snakes
           show their backs.

          45 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - NIGHT 45

           A campfire burns at the base of the tree. The firelight
           illuminates the belly of the boat that rests 20 feet above.
           Ellis, his flashlight off, crouches behind a tree and watches
           the campsite. There is no one there. He looks into the
           black forest behind him, thinks of going back.
           A twig snaps in the distance and he's back on guard. Ellis
           nervously scans the woods before finally stepping into the
           light of the campfire.
           The SOUND of a gun's hammer drawing back CLICKS behind him.
           Ellis freezes.
           Mud emerges from the trees, a .45 extended toward Ellis'
           back.

                          MUD
           Ellis?
           Ellis, still frozen, slowly turns to him. Mud huffs out a
           laugh and drops the pistol to his side.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           What're you doin' out here?
           Ellis slowly raises the backpack in his hand.

                          ELLIS
           I got you some Beanie Weenie.
           Mud tucks the pistol into his jeans and accepts the backpack.

           36.

                         

                          MUD
           I appreciate that, but I didn't
           expect you out here at night.
          Mud takes a seat on the log and transfers the cans into his
          own duffel bag. He holds up a can of the Beanie Weenie.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Look at that. You really know how
           to do somebody right. I didn't
           wanna say anything before, but it's
           hard to make a meal out of pumpkin
           pie filling.

                          ELLIS
           That's all my mom had.

                          MUD
           I'm not complainin'.

                          ELLIS
           Can I get one of those?

                          MUD
           They're yours to begin with.
          Ellis sits as Mud hands him a can. They eat.

                          ELLIS
           I missed my dinner.

                          MUD
           That's good right?

                          ELLIS

                          (MOUTH FULL)
           You been out here too long.
          Mud laughs. Finishing the can, he takes a half-smoked
          cigarette from his shirt pocket. He pulls a twig from the
          fire for a light.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           The girl you're waitin' on, she's
           your girlfriend?

                          MUD
           Juniper. Yeah.

                          ELLIS
           How'd you meet her?

                          MUD
           We grew up together.

                          ELLIS
           Do you love her?

           37.

                         

                          MUD
           I do. The first time I saw her was
           on this river. Just up from here.
           She saved my life.

                          ELLIS
           From the snake bite.

                          MUD
           That's right. I was younger than
           you are now, but when I came to in
           the hospital and she was there, it
           was like the world split open, came
           back together new. Everything
           changed. I knew from then on I'd
           do anything for her.

                          ELLIS
           Why aren't ya'll married?

                          MUD
           I've asked. Several times.
           Marriage just doesn't work for some
           people.
          Ellis thinks on this.

                          ELLIS
           My dad says my parents may be
           gettin' a divorce.

                          MUD
           I'm sorry to hear that.

                          ELLIS
           If it happens, and my mom moves us
           off the river, they say the
           government can come take our boat
           away.

                          MUD
           Who says that?

                          ELLIS
           Everybody. They passed a law so
           you can't sell your boat. Can't
           rent it. If the owner leaves, they
           got you. Game and Fish want `em
           off the river.

                          MUD
           I've never been one to trust the
           government on matters of personal
           property, but if your parents love
           each other, there's always a
           chance.

                          (MORE)

           38.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           People just sometimes forget why
           they fell in love in the first
           place.
          Ellis watches Mud toke the cigarette nub. He's really
          getting all he can from it.

                          ELLIS
           I saw Juniper today.

                          MUD
           What?

                          ELLIS
           I didn't talk to her, but she had
           the birds tattooed on her hand like
           you said. You were right. She's
           pretty.
          Mud stands, surprised by the news. He walks to the other
          side of the fire so his back is to the boy.

                          MUD
           Where'd you see her?

                          ELLIS
           At the Piggly Wiggly. I think
           she's stayin' at a motel by there.
           The Executive Inn.
          Mud looks at Ellis through the fire. He takes a drag and
          smiles at the boy. The hole from his missing tooth shows.

                          MUD
           That's good news. Real good news.
          Mud paces, slowly. He's thinking.

                          ELLIS
           Does she know you're out here?

                          MUD
           No. We picked another place to
           meet. Couple days from now.
          Mud walks back to the log and sits.

                          ELLIS
           You wanna go tonight? I can give
           you a ride up river.
          Mud looks at Ellis, nodding.

                          MUD
           Tomorrow. I'll go tomorrow.

           39.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You need me to come get you?

                          MUD
           Naw. I can manage. Hell I got out
           here didn't I?
           Ellis smiles.
           They sit in silence. Ellis stares up at the boat hanging
           over them, its peeling hull lit by the firelight.
           Mud pinches the ash from the end of his cigarette, places the
           stub back in his shirt pocket. Noticing Ellis, Mud tilts his
           head back to take in the boat.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           It's a helluva thing.
           Mud pauses, his mind working on something.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Helluva thing.
           The two sit by the campfire staring up at the suspended boat.

          46 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - MORNING 46

           Mary Lee knocks on her way into the bedroom.

                          MARY LEE
           Time to get up.
           She begins picking clothes off the floor. Ellis, in bed,
           raises up on his elbows. He's tired from a late night.

                          ELLIS
           It's Saturday.

                          MARY LEE
           I'm going to Wal-Mart. I need you
           to come with me.

                          ELLIS

                          (MOANING)
           Mom.

                          MARY LEE
           Come on.
           She pulls the covers off of him.

          47 I/E. MARY LEE'S CAR/INTERSTATE - DAY 47
           The two ride in an awkward silence.

           40.

                         
          Ellis stares at the farmland passing by outside as Mary Lee
          steers the compact Toyota down a four-lane interstate.

                          MARY LEE
           Ellis I know what your father told
           you last night. That's not what I
           wanted. I wanted to sit you down
           and talk about it.

                          ELLIS
           What do you wanna talk about? You
           want to leave and that means they
           can tear up our house.

                          MARY LEE
           I've spent my whole life on that
           boat. I don't think it's too much
           to ask for your...
          Mary Lee is interrupted by a line of traffic backed up in
          front of her. She slows to a stop.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           Oh no. I hope no one's hurt.
          There are flashing police lights up ahead. Ellis tries to
          see what's going on but can't make anything out past the line
          of cars. They inch forward.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           I'm just saying there are two sides
           to this. I haven't made up my mind
           about anything because I want you
           to be involved in my decision, but
           I need a change Ellis. I deserve
           one.
          As they approach the flashing lights, they see three State
          Trooper vehicles parked to funnel traffic down to one lane.
          The STATE TROOPERS stop each car, checking the trunks.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           I think they're searching people.
          A Trooper signals Mary Lee to pull up to a stop. Two other
          Troopers approach her vehicle. The first begins looking in
          her back windows as the second leans down to speak to her.
          She lowers her window.

                          TROOPER
           Can you open the trunk please
           ma'am?

                          MARY LEE
           Of course.

           41.

                         
          Mary Lee pulls the lever by her knee, and the second Trooper
          walks around the back of the car.

                          TROOPER
           Have you picked up or seen any
           hitchhikers today ma'am?

                          MARY LEE
           No sir.
          The Trooper produces a flier with a color photo on it.

                          TROOPER
           Have you seen this man?

                          MARY LEE
           No sir.
          The Trooper leans over and holds the paper out to Ellis.

                          TROOPER
           Son, have you seen this man?
          Ellis looks at the photo. It's of Mud. He looks exactly the
          same as he did last night, down to the shirt. In the photo,
          Mud's smiling, revealing his missing tooth.

                          ELLIS
           No.

                          TROOPER
           We've had reports that he's in this
           area. If you see him, call 9-1-1
           immediately.

                          MARY LEE
           We will officer.
          The Trooper pulls his head from the window.

                          ELLIS
           What'd he do?!
          The Trooper bends back down and looks at Ellis.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)

                          (MORE CALM)
           What'd he do?

                          TROOPER
           Move along please.
          Mary Lee pulls forward and speeds back up on the interstate.

                          MARY LEE
           My lord.
           (rolls up her window)

                          (MORE)

           42.

                         

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           How would you feel about moving
           into town with me?

                          (NO ANSWER)
           Please don't tell your father this,
           but I've been looking at a couple
           of places. I know it would be a
           big adjustment for you, but it
           might end up being something you
           like. You know living on the river
           isn't exactly everyone's idea of
           the good life. Ellis?
           He looks at her.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           Are you even listening to me?

          48 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - DAY 48

           Ellis busts through the door, grabs his backpack and is gone.

          49 EXT. HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 49

           Ellis is off the houseboat and running up the bank.
           He heads down the dirt path, grabbing the Walkie Talkie out
           of his backpack.

                          ELLIS
           (into the Walkie)
           Neck! Neck, pick up!

          50 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAY 50

           Ellis removes branches and readies the flat bottom boat to
           launch. The sound of Neckbone's bike arrives before he does.
           Neckbone crests the sand covered slope. He dismounts and
           starts to chain the bike up to a tree trunk.

                          NECKBONE
           So what's the big deal?

                          ELLIS
           My mom and I were headed to Wal-
           Mart on 165. There was a roadblock
           with state troopers. They searched
           our car and showed us a picture of
           Mud. They're lookin' for him.

                          NECKBONE
           I knew it! I told you that crazy
           sonofabitch was trouble. Did they
           say what he did?

                          ELLIS
           No.

           43.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           So'd you tell `em where he is?

                          ELLIS
           No. That's why I called you. We
           gotta warn him.

                          NECKBONE
           What?

                          ELLIS
           He's goin' to get Juniper today. I
           went out there last night and told
           him where we saw her. He needs to
           know people are lookin' for him.

                          NECKBONE
           You think he doesn't know that
           already? Jesus Ellis, why do you
           think he's on that island? You
           don't even know what he's wanted
           for.
           Ellis climbs in the boat and Neckbone yanks his shoulder.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Ellis! I'm serious. We don't know
           who this guy is.

                          ELLIS
           He loves her Neck. He told me.

                          NECKBONE
           I don't give a shit who he loves.
           Ellis starts the motor and waits for his friend.

                          ELLIS
           He's not dangerous.
           Reluctantly, Neckbone throws his leg into the boat.

                          NECKBONE
           It sounds like a shitload of state
           troopers think different.

          51 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 51

           Ellis and Neckbone emerge from the woods at Mud's campsite.
           They scan nearby tree limbs.

                          NECKBONE
           No tellin' where the hell he's been
           sleepin'.

                          ELLIS
           He may already be gone.

           44.

                         

           MUD (O.S.)
           Hey!
           The boys look straight up. Mud leans over the edge of the
           boat above them.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Up here!
           Mud drops them a rope with knots tied in it. Ellis starts
           inching his way up. Neckbone begrudgingly follows.

          52 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - CONTINUOUS 52

           Ellis pulls himself over the edge of the boat. He finds Mud
           sitting in the swivel chair behind the steering wheel. He
           writes in an open spiral notebook with a black Sharpie.

                          ELLIS
           What are you doin'?

                          MUD
           I'm gonna have to go back on our
           deal for the boat. I don't feel
           good about it, but I don't see any
           other way outta what I'm into.
           Neckbone makes his way on board. Mud has pulled a panel off
           the steering column. Exposed wires dangle.

                          ELLIS
           So you know about the state
           troopers?
           He looks up from his notebook.

                          MUD
           What state troopers?

                          NECKBONE
           The ones spreadin' your picture all
           over the place. Stoppin' cars on
           165 searchin' for your ass.
           Mud factors this in and then goes back to writing.

                          MUD
           I didn't know about that, but it
           doesn't surprise me. There plenty
           of folks lookin' for me right now.

                          ELLIS
           Why?

                          MUD
           I shot a man. Killed him.

           45.

                         
          Mud stands and walks to the back of the boat. The boys' eyes
          follow him cautiously.
          Mud lifts a hatch at the back that would typically house the
          batteries and engine wiring. There's nothing left but a hole
          into the trees. He makes a note.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I'm sorry I didn't tell ya'll
           sooner, but I was hopin' to be gone
           before anything came of it. Didn't
           want you involved.
          Mud turns to really face them for the first time.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Ya'll have been real good to me.
           You're the only friends I got out
           here. If the state troopers have
           165 blocked, they'll have others
           blocked too. I won't get anywhere
           in a car. I want to try takin'
           this boat down, see if we can get
           it in the water.
          Ellis and Neckbone stand their ground. They don't say
          anything. Mud walks back to the steering column. He drops to
          his knees and fiddles with the wires.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           With a boat like this I can make it
           to the gulf in two days. I could
           get anywhere from there. But I'd
           need a boat at least this big to
           make it on open water. It's got no
           title, no owner, nobody lookin' for
           it. It's my best shot.

                          NECKBONE
           Who'd you kill?

                          MUD
           It was a bad piece of business.
           Ya'll don't need to hear about it.

                          ELLIS
           I need to hear about it.
          Mud sits up. He looks at Ellis, deciding how much to tell.

                          MUD
           Juniper made a mistake. She hooked
           up with a guy. He was no good.
           His name was Hutchins. Family owns
           a chain of restaurants down in
           Texas.

           46.

                         

                          ELLIS
           Where were you?

                          MUD
           I was around, but me and Juniper
           were on the outs. She met this
           Hutchins, he sold her on some lies.
           Got her pregnant. That's when he
           started showin' who he really was.
           He dropped June down a flight of
           stairs after whoopin' her half to
           death. She lost the baby. He made
           it so the doctors think she can't
           have children anymore. There're
           things you can get away with in
           this world and things you can't. I
           tracked him down at a motel just
           outside of San Antonio. He was
           there with another woman. That's
           where it happened.
          Mud's done with his story. He goes back to the wiring.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I understand if you can't help me
           anymore, but I need this boat. And
           I need to get it in the water fast.
          After a moment, he sits up and wipes sweat from his forehead.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I've made a list. Things we'll
           need. What do ya'll think?
          Ellis takes time to consider everything. He looks at
          Neckbone, who has a disgruntled look on his face.

                          ELLIS
           You did it for her? To protect
           her?

                          MUD
           Yeah.
          Ellis nods. Mud looks over at Neckbone, who still has the
          disgruntled look on his face.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           What do you think?

                          NECKBONE
           I think you want us to run around,
           stickin' our necks out, gettin'
           everything you need, just so you
           can take our boat.

           47.

                         

                          MUD
           That's about it.
          Mud removes a cigarette butt and sparks it with a lighter.

                          NECKBONE
           What do we get out of it?

                          MUD
           What do you want?
          Neckbone looks to Ellis, judging his bargaining position.

                          NECKBONE
           What about that pistol?
          Mud eyes the boy, pulling on the nub of cigarette.

                          MUD
           I only got two things out here
           worth anything. This shirt...
          Mud pulls the pistol from the back of his jeans. Neckbone
          tenses, but relaxes when Mud splays it out on an open palm.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           And this pistol. I can't give you
           the shirt `cause I need it for
           protection, but if you help me get
           this boat in the water, the
           pistol's yours.
          Neckbone squinches his face in thought, sizing up this trade.

                          NECKBONE
           What kind is it?

                          MUD
           A forty five.

                          NECKBONE
           I guess we could work a deal like
           that.
          Neckbone steps forward to grab the pistol, but Mud puts it
          back in his jeans.

                          MUD
           We get this thing floatin' first.
          Neckbone looks over at Ellis, who shrugs.

                          NECKBONE
           All right then.

           48.

                         
           Mud smiles, flashing his missing tooth. He spits in his palm
           and holds it out to Neckbone. Neckbone, not sure about
           taking the spit hand, reluctantly shakes.
           Mud rips a page from the notebook and hands it to Ellis.

                          MUD
           Ya'll scrounge what you can off
           this list, but if we're gonna get
           this done right we'll need more
           help. Can you fetch Tom for me?

                          ELLIS
           Tom Blankenship?
           Mud has smoked down to the filter. He crushes the butt into
           his palm and puts it back in his shirt pocket.

                          MUD
           I was hopin' to let that old
           assassin stay put, but we'll need
           him to get things ya'll can't. Can
           you find him?

                          ELLIS
           I know where he lives, but I've
           never spoke to him.

                          MUD
           Just tell him my name. He'll know
           you're serious.
           Ellis folds the list up. He and Neckbone start down the rope
           as Mud goes back to the wiring.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Boys?

                          (THEY PAUSE)
           Thanks.
           Ellis nods.

                          NECKBONE
           Don't lose my pistol.
           They continue down the rope. Mud continues his work.

          53 EXT. SHELLY'S OXBOW - DAY 53

           Ellis steers to the southern mouth of Shelly's Oxbow, the
           bend in the river that holds he and Tom Blankenship's
           houseboats, among others.
           He grounds the boat just shy of entering the Oxbow and steps
           over Neckbone to hop onto the bank.

           49.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You comin'?

                          NECKBONE
           I'll watch the boat.
           Ellis scans the woods that populate the patch of land wedged
           between the river and this short tributary.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           What?

                          NECKBONE
           Be careful. Galen always said that
           old man's crazy.
           Neckbone keeps his seat as Ellis darts into the woods

          54 EXT. TOM'S WOODS - DAY 54

           Ellis prowls around the small pine trees and bushes. He
           pauses, seeing the entrance to Tom Blankenship's boat.
           Something moves on the houseboat. Ellis hunkers down behind
           a bush. He sees Tom wrapping cable onto a metal spool.
           Ellis is nervous. He checks over his shoulder, nothing but
           woods. When he looks back to the boat, Tom is gone. In a
           crouch, Ellis moves closer.
           Taking a deep breath, Ellis steps out from the cover of the
           pine trees and heads up a walkway that leads onboard.

           TOM (O.S.)
           Why you huntin' me?
           Ellis flinches. He turns to find Tom Blankenship standing at
           the edge of the boat.

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           You deaf boy? I said why're you
           huntin' me?

                          ELLIS
           I ain't huntin you.

                          TOM
           What's your business here?

                          ELLIS
           I came to find you. I got a
           message for you.

           50.

                         

                          TOM
           You're Senior's boy.

                          ELLIS
           Yessir.

                          TOM
           What you got to say he can't tell
           me himself?
           Tom, rusty on pleasantries, brushes past Ellis as he heads
           inside the boat.

                          ELLIS
           It ain't from him.
           Ellis, not wanting to follow further, shouts from the planks.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)

           MUD SENT ME!
           There is a silence. Then footsteps. Tom reappears.

                          TOM
           Mud sent you.

                          ELLIS
           Yessir.

                          TOM
           What do you know about it?

                          ELLIS
           He asked me to come get you.
           Tom straightens his back. He looks into the woods, searching
           for something he may have missed.

                          TOM
           Your daddy know this?

                          ELLIS
           No sir. Mud needs your help.
           Tom's mind churns on a series of facts unknown to the boy.

                          TOM
           Where is he?

          55 EXT. RIVER - DAY 55

           Neckbone bounces in the boat as it shifts in the choppy
           Mississippi water. His eyes are locked on the back of Tom's
           head. Tom rides stone faced in the front.
           Neckbone turns back to Ellis and raises his eyebrows as if to
           ask, "What's going on?". Ellis shrugs.

           51.

                         

          56 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 56

           Ellis runs the boat on shore. Tom splashes into the ankle
           deep water and helps the boys drag it onto the bank.
           Ellis takes the lead, walking ahead and scanning the
           treeline. Mud steps out, just past the shadow of the woods.
           Ellis turns to Tom and points.

                          ELLIS
           There he is.
           Tom spits onto the muddy bank and makes his way toward Mud.
           Ellis and Neckbone stay by the boat and watch.

           BY THE TREELINE,
           Mud watches Tom approaching. He corrects his posture and
           feebly attempts to smooth some wrinkles from his shirt.
           Tom stops in front of him, his eyes pinched in the sun.

                          TOM
           Mud.

                          MUD
           Sir.
           They stare at each other for a long moment. Neither one
           flinching.

           BY THE BOAT,
           At this distance, the boys can't hear what is being said, but
           they try and size up the situation through body language.

                          NECKBONE
           You think that's his dad?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know.

           BY THE TREELINE,

                          TOM
           Where is she?

                          MUD
           In town. Got here yesterday.
           Tom lowers his head. Frustrated.

                          TOM
           Why you out here like this?

           BY THE BOAT,

           52.

                         
          The boys see Mud take a seat on a nearby stump. He's
          explaining something. Tom listens, standing over him.

                          NECKBONE
           They don't look like family.
          Ellis watches Mud as he gestures and speaks. He seems
          different. Younger.
          Mud stops talking. Tom scratches a hand through his white
          crew cut. He begins pointing a finger at Mud. His face is
          flushed and the sound of his voice carries to the boys,
          though still unintelligible.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           He's really givin' it to him.

          AT THE TREELINE,
          Mud's head hangs as Tom shouts at him.

                          TOM
           You've spent your whole life
           followin' that girl! She's run you
           halfway cross the country and back,
           and for what? For this, left out
           on an island beggin' for help. A
           murderer. A thief.

                          MUD
           I ain't no thief.

                          TOM
           What would you call it then? Don't
           even mention draggin' those boys
           into this. Do you have any idea
           what you're doin'?
          Waits for a response, but Mud gives none.

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           I'm ashamed of you.
          Mud looks up at him.

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           Don't expect help from me. There's
           none to be given.

          AT THE BOAT,
          They see Tom turn his back on Mud and head toward the boat.
          Mud doesn't protest; he doesn't move.
          Tom brushes past Ellis.

           53.

                         

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           I'm ready.
          Tom shoves the boat back into the water. Neckbone helps him.
          Ellis looks back at Mud, who still hasn't moved from his
          stump. He goes to him. Tom sees this and stops pushing.

                          TOM (CONT'D)

                          (TO HIMSELF)
           Dammit.

          AT THE TREELINE,
          Ellis stops a good six feet back from where Mud sits.

                          ELLIS
           You all right?
          Mud raises his head.

                          MUD
           Looks like we're on our own.
          He stands and takes a folded piece of paper from his shirt.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I didn't want you bein' the one to
           do this, but I can't see a way
           around it. I need to get this
           letter to Juniper. Could you take
           it to her for me?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          MUD
           You have to be careful. You can't
           just walk up and knock on her door,
           you hear me? You have to watch
           yourself.

                          ELLIS
           I can handle it.
          Ellis steps forward and Mud hands over the note. Ellis takes
          it and walks back to the others.

          AT THE BOAT,
          Tom stares at Ellis as he climbs on board.
          Tom looks back at Mud, who is watching him. He gives the
          boat a final shove before pulling himself in. They motor
          away. Tom doesn't look back.

           54.

                         

          57 EXT. RIVER/SHELLY'S OXBOW - MOVING - DAY 57


                          NECKBONE
           You Mud's daddy?

                          TOM
           Mud didn't have no daddy. No
           mother I ever knew of. He was
           livin' in the woods when I met him.
           Younger than you are now.
           Tom doesn't offer anymore. Neckbone thinks on his answer.
           Ellis kills the engine near the mouth of Shelly's Oxbow. Tom
           jumps down into the knee deep river and wades onto shore. He
           turns back to the boys.

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           Ya'll need to watch yourselves.
           Don't go gettin' into something you
           don't have any business in. Mud's
           into something you don't want any
           part of. I suggest you forget
           about him.
           Ellis and Neckbone don't respond. Tom, with a final
           admonishing look, disappears into the woods.
           Ellis cranks the motor and points the boat up river.

          58 EXT. RIVER - MOVING - MOMENTS LATER 58

           Edges of the notebook paper flap in the wind. Neckbone reads
           Mud's letter to Juniper.
           Ellis reaches the bank where they stash their boat. He shuts
           off the motor and let's them drift. Neckbone folds the
           letter back up and turns to face Ellis.

                          ELLIS
           What do you think?

                          NECKBONE
           He loves her. You can tell that
           much. You gonna take it to her?

                          ELLIS
           I told him I would.
           Neckbone thinks about this seriously, shakes his head.

                          NECKBONE
           I don't know. Could be a lot of
           trouble.

           55.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You still got that trailer you made
           for your bike?

          59 EXT. DEWITT STREET - LATE AFTERNOON 59

           Neckbone rides with Ellis on the back of his dirt bike.
           Cars and Trucks HONK and zip by them. Their speed is topped
           out at about 15 miles per hour. Mostly a result of the small
           3X4 metal trailer they are towing behind the bike.
           One of Senior's white fish coolers sits in the trailer.

          60 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON 60

           Parked in the far corner of the lot, Ellis sits on top of the
           white cooler eyeing the Executive Inn. Neckbone straddles
           the dirt bike. A handful of cars are parked at the motel; an
           old Honda, a pick-up, and a BLACK LINCOLN.

                          ELLIS
           I say we start at the top, work our
           way down.

                          NECKBONE
           All right.
           They each grab an end of the cooler and carry it across the
           lot toward a flight of stairs.

          61 ON THE SECOND FLOOR, 61
           The boys set the cooler down in front of the first room on
           the corner. Ellis checks over his shoulder, nothing strange.
           Ellis knocks. They wait. No answer.
           They pick the cooler up and walk to the next door. Knock.
           After a moment, a BLACK MAN in his late sixties opens the
           door wearing boxers and an undershirt.

                          BLACK MAN
           What you want?

                          ELLIS
           We're sellin' fish. You wanna buy
           some?

                          BLACK MAN
           Fish?
           He looks at the two boys like they are insane.

           BLACK MAN (CONT'D)
           I don't want no damn fish.

           56.

                         
           He slams the door.
           They drag the cooler to the next door. As Ellis holds up his
           fist to knock, they hear a woman shouting a few doors down.

           JUNIPER (O.S.)

           STOP IT! STOP!
           Ellis heads for the room. Neckbone drags the cooler after
           him. Ellis reaches the motel room door, which has been left
           ajar. He places his hand on it and lets it fall open.

          62 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 62


           CARVER (O.S.)

           KEEP LYIN'! KEEP LYIN' AND I'LL

           CRACK YOUR NOSE OPEN!
           The door opens to CARVER(47), a tall, slender man in a dark
           Western cut suit, standing over Juniper. She's crumpled up
           in a ball at the end of the bed. Carver swats open-handed at
           her head. Grabs the top of her hair.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           You hear me bitch? Tell me another
           lie.
           Ellis rushes Carver with his shoulder as if he were breaking
           down a door. Carver is knocked off balance. He trips over
           the edge of the bed and crashes into the motel room wall.
           Carver, slightly stunned, gets to his feet and in two broad
           steps lands a man-sized punch across Ellis' face. It's hard.
           Ellis melts. He grabs the boy up by the scruff of his shirt.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           Who are you!? Who the hell are
           you!? Did he send you!?
           Carver removes a piece of paper from his pocket. It's a
           photo copied picture of Mud, different than the State
           Trooper's. Carver crams the photo in the boy's face.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           You know this man!? Look at him!
           Do you know him!?
           Blood trickles from a cut under Ellis' eye. He stutters
           under the shaking force of Carver's hands.

                          ELLIS
           I don't...I...

           NECKBONE (O.S.)

           FISH!!! IT'S FISH!!!

           57.

                         
          Neckbone is yelling at the top of his lungs, almost in a
          girl's pitch. Carver turns to him. The cooler is open
          behind them and Neckbone holds up two Ziplock bags of fish.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           We're just selling fish!
          Carver sizes things up. It takes a moment, but he settles.
          He snorts out a laugh and drops Ellis on the ground.
          Carver turns his attention back to Juniper, who is huddled up
          in the corner of the motel. Carver walks over to her.
          Opening a good-sized knife, he gets down in her face and
          holds the blade uncomfortably close to her cheek.

                          CARVER
           I know you know where he is. And I
           swear to God I'll cut through every
           one a you to find him.
          She flinches. Standing, Carver folds up his knife.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           We know you came here for him, and
           we know he's too stupid to leave
           you behind. So when he pops his
           head out of whatever shithole he's
           staying in, I'll be there. You
           tell him that.
          Carver turns, stepping over Ellis on his way out.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           And you need to mind your business
           boy.
          Neckbone moves from the doorway to let him pass. Carver is
          gone. Neckbone shuts the door and fastens the security
          latch. He kneels down to check on his friend.

                          NECKBONE
           You all right?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          NECKBONE
           He popped your eye.
          Ellis holds the back of his hand up to his eye which has
          begun to swell. The cut trickles blood over his cheekbone.
          Juniper moves to the sink. Ellis sits up, staring at her
          back.

           58.

                         
          She opens an ice bucket and wraps a handful of cubes in a
          towel. She turns and walks over to them, her eyes cast down.
          She kneels in front of Ellis, making eye contact for the
          first time. She touches his chin, gently pivoting it to see
          the wound. Her eyes are glassy.

                          JUNIPER
           Thank you.
          He stares back at her. He can't take his eyes off her. She
          holds the iced towel to his cheek. He doesn't even flinch.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           I'm so sorry.
          Tears form and run down her cheeks.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Here.
          She takes his hand and places it against the towel. She gets
          to her feet and pulls a pocket book from a bag in the corner.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           How much is your fish? I'll buy
           the cooler full.
          Ellis motions Neckbone to the cooler. Neckbone goes over and
          crams his hand into the ice. He removes a Ziplock bag
          containing the note that Mud sent.
          Neckbone hands it to Ellis. Taking the note, he sets his ice
          down and walks over to Juniper.

                          ELLIS
           Mud sent us to give this to you.
          Juniper is stunned. She looks at the bag, then at the boys.

                          JUNIPER
           You've met Mud?
          Ellis nods. Neckbone speaks up from the back.

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah we met him.
          Juniper takes the bag. She removes the letter and takes a
          seat on the edge of the bed to read it.
          Ellis watches her eyes move along the paper. She smiles,
          which makes Ellis smile. After a moment, she folds it up.

                          JUNIPER
           He tells me to hold tight.

           59.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah, we read it.
          Juniper raises her eyebrows at Neckbone.

                          JUNIPER
           Well do you know how long `hold
           tight' is?

                          ELLIS
           I think it's a couple days. He
           wants to get a boat for ya'll.

                          JUNIPER
           God.
          Juniper shakes her head and goes to the sink. She pulls a
          lighter from her jeans pocket and torches Mud's note.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Tell him I'll wait.
          Running water over the ashes, she turns back to them.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           But I don't want ya'll involved.
           Tell him what I said and make that
           it. I don't want you gettin' in
           any trouble.

                          ELLIS
           We won't.

                          JUNIPER
           What do you call that?
          She motions to his swelling eye. Ellis shrugs.

                          ELLIS
           We'll be all right. Keep your door
           locked. We'll be in touch.
          Ellis heads to the door as Neckbone gathers up the cooler.

                          JUNIPER
           Wait.
          Ellis turns back.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           What's your name?

                          ELLIS
           I'm Ellis. That's Neckbone.

           60.

                         
           Juniper walks up to Ellis and puts her hands on his
           shoulders. She has to bend slightly to do it, but she kisses
           him just above his swollen eye.

                          JUNIPER
           Thank you Ellis.
           Ellis stares at her, infatuated.

                          NECKBONE
           We gotta go.
           Ellis turns and grabs one end of the cooler. Neckbone slaps
           back the security latch and opens the door with his free
           hand. They walk out.

          63 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DUSK 63

           Ellis, his foot on the door, looks back at Juniper.

                          ELLIS
           Lock the door.
           She smiles. The door slams shut. The room number, 212,
           stares Ellis in the face. He takes a deep breath.

                          NECKBONE
           Let's go hard on.
           He and Ellis wrangle the cooler down the steps. The sun set
           while they were inside. A blue hue hangs over everything.

          64 I/E. CARVER'S LINCOLN/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 64
           Carver takes a drag off a cigarette from behind the steering
           wheel of his black Lincoln town car, conscious to blow any
           smoke out the open driver's window.
           His car, wedged between two others in the Piggly Wiggly
           parking lot, is pointed toward the Executive Inn. He watches
           as Ellis and Neckbone load the cooler onto Neckbone's bike.

          65 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 65

           Ellis enters his houseboat. It's quiet.
           He sees a note on the counter next to a can of soup. It
           reads, "I've gone to a movie. Warm up some soup for dinner.
           Love, Mom". Ellis picks up the can, not thrilled.
           He goes to the fridge and grabs a sack of peas from the
           freezer. Holding the peas against his eye he takes a seat at
           the counter and flips through a phone book.
           He finds what he needs and dials a corded phone. He waits.

           61.

                         

                          ELLIS
           Hello? Is May Pearl there?...This
           is Ellis...Hey, it's Ellis. Hey...
           What?...In the phone book... from
           his car commercials...I think
           they're all right...Tomorrow? Yeah,
           I can meet you... Okay. Bye.
           Ellis hangs up the phone. With the peas pressed firmly
           against his face, he smirks.

                          CUT TO:

          66 SERIES OF IMAGES: 66
           -Neckbone's sneaker busts through a rotten plank of wood.
           -Inside a decrepit wooden shack, Ellis gives Neckbone a look
           like he's a dumbass as they proceed to take the shack apart
           board by board. Ellis now has a full-on BLACK EYE.
          A66 -Neckbone stands lookout under the carport section of Ellis' A66
           houseboat. The coast clear, he gives Ellis a nod. Ellis
           pops open a metal locker and removes a small chainsaw and
           container of gas. He loads these into an empty fish cooler.
          B66 -Tom, sitting atop his houseboat with his pellet gun, watchesB66
           as the two boys sneak the tools away. He's displeased.
          C66 -At Neckbone's mobile home park, Ellis heaves loops of thick C66
           rope onto their mini dirt bike trailer. Neckbone stands
           nearby laughing with the rope's OWNER, a lanky guy with brown
           teeth and a Tasmanian Devil tattoo on his neck.
          AC66 -Ellis hoists Neckbone up by the foot allowing him to AC66
           unscrew a road sign.
          D66 -A mop soaked in black tar slops across the flat roof of the D66
           furniture store in downtown Dewitt. Neckbone and Ellis stand
           in the store's parking lot yelling up to the ROOFERS.
           -They get one's attention, and Neckbone points to a dried
           pile of leftover tar that has been dumped at the back of the
           building. The ROOFER swats a hand at the boys. They proceed
           to load the dried hunk onto the small trailer.
          E66 -From a distance, Neckbone and Ellis stand on a sailboat in E66
           the middle of a fenced-in marine junkyard. Surrounded by old
           boat parts, the boys begin shuttling several large metal
           pulleys off the sailboat.

          67 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 67

           Mud smiles, showing his missing tooth, as he looks over the
           load of items the boys have stacked in their boat. Neckbone
           tosses a loop of rope to him.

           61A.

                         

                          NECKBONE
          We've got more, but no motor.

           62.

                         

                          MUD
           This'll work for now. You get her
           my note?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.
          Ellis turns and Mud sees his black eye for the first time.

                          MUD
           Where'd you get that from?

                          ELLIS
           We came up on Juniper's room. A
           guy was in there beatin' up on her.
          Mud's face turns dark.

                          NECKBONE
           Ellis rushed him. Got smacked for
           it.

                          MUD
           What'd he look like?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know. Tall. Looked like a
           cowboy.

                          MUD
           Dark hair?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          MUD

           DAMMIT!
          Mud slings the rope to the ground and kicks it. His face is
          flushed. It's the first time the boys have seen him angry.

                          MUD (CONT'D)

           GOD DAMMIT!
          The boys back up. Mud takes a deep breath, tries to cool
          down. It takes a moment, then something occurs to him. He
          eyes Ellis with a look of genuine gratitude.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Thanks for lookin' after her.
          Ellis nods. Mud picks up the rope.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           His name's Carver. Brother of the
           man I shot. If he's here, then
           more are comin'.

           63.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           More what?
           Mud gathers the supplies and heads to the treeline. The
           boys, with their hands full, follow him.

                          MUD
           Bounty hunters. Carver's rotten,
           but his daddy's the one to be
           scared of. He'll spend all the
           money he has to see me dead. If it
           was up to me I'd put the whole
           family down same as the other. Not
           a decent man between `em.
           Mud stops and turns to lay a serious look on them.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Ya'll listen to me now. If you see
           that old man, don't get near him.
           He's the triple six real deal
           scratch you hear me?
           Mud waits for nods from them both.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           All right.

          68 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER/ISLAND - CONTINUOUS 68

           Galen drifts in his own boat out on the Mississippi River.
           He stares at something in the distance.

          A68 FROM ACROSS THE RIVER, A68
           He sees Neckbone and Ellis on the island walking with Mud.
           Galen, a concerned look on his face, keeps one hand on his
           motor and the other on a bulging net of mussel shells.
           His HELPER, a salty looking man in his fifties, sits at the
           front of the boat sipping Budweiser from the can.

                          HELPER
           What you waitin' for?

                          GALEN
           Shut up.
           After a moment, Galen cranks the motor and speeds away.

          69 EXT. BOAT IN TREE - DAY - LATER 69

           Mud stands with Ellis and Neckbone on the deck of the boat.
           He holds a pulley in one hand and a length of rope in the
           other. He stares up into the trees.

           64.

                         

                          MUD
           Ellis, can you climb up that trunk
           and get these hung?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          MUD
           Take a foot of line and tie `em off
           with a bowline knot. You know it?

                          ELLIS
           I'm not stupid.
          Ellis takes the pulley and scales the trunk without
          hesitation. Mud tosses his pocket knife to Neckbone.

                          MUD
           Neck, start cuttin' line. Three
           fifteen foot sections. Count a
           foot long as your arm.
          Mud begins threading the pulleys with rope. As Neckbone cuts
          rope, he sees the pistol stuck in the back of Mud's pants.

                          NECKBONE
           What's so special `bout that shirt
           you'd lose your pistol for it?

                          MUD
           It's got a wolf's eye sewn in the
           sleeve. More protection than a
           bullet ever gave. Tom swears by
           it.

                          NECKBONE
           He said he wasn't your daddy.

                          MUD
           Tom's the closest thing I ever knew
           to a father.

                          NECKBONE
           I never met my parents.

                          MUD
           It's hard not knowin' the ones you
           came from.

                          NECKBONE
           My uncle Galen tells me things
           about `em. He's the one that takes
           care of me.

                          MUD
           Tom did that for me.

           65.

                         
           Ellis drops down to the deck and grabs another pulley.

                          ELLIS
           What'd you mean when you called Tom
           an assassin?

                          MUD
           Tom's had lives you'd never know
           about. Grew up up North. Went to
           Yale. For a long time he was a
           paid killer for the C.I.A. Lived
           in Cuba in `63. He's probably
           killed more people than you've met.

                          (TO NECKBONE)
           Hand me that line.
           Neckbone tosses him an end of rope, looks to Ellis. Ellis
           gives a shrug before heading back up the trunk.

          70 EXT. BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY - LATER 70

           Mud hangs off the tree fifteen feet up by a piece of rope
           tied around his waist. A series of ropes and pulleys
           crisscross from the boat to the trees.
           Neckbone and Ellis stand on the ground staring up at him.
           Mud holds a chainsaw and seems to be hesitating.

                          NECKBONE
           Well if you're gonna do it do it!
           Mud takes a deep breath and yanks the cord. Angled on one of
           the main branches holding up the boat, Mud begins cutting.
           Ellis and Neckbone step further and further back as they
           watch the chainsaw work through the thick limb.
           Suddenly, the chainsaw stops. A deep CRACKING sound. The
           huge branch SNAPS, tumbling off lower limbs before crashing
           to the ground. Mud holds onto the trunk for dear life.
           The branch now rests on the ground, SILENCE. The ropes and
           pulleys hang taught, squeaking from the weight of the boat.
           Mud slowly lifts his head up. He smiles at what he sees.
           The rigging has held.

                          MUD
           One down!
           Neckbone and Ellis watch as Mud scampers around the trunk to
           the next branch. The chainsaw cranks back on.

                          NECKBONE
           This shit is crazy.

           66.

                         

          71 I/E. MARY LEE'S CAR/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE 71

                          AFTERNOON
           Ellis looks out the car window at HIGH SCHOOL KIDS that have
           gathered in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. His hair is
           slicked to one side, and he's wearing a collared shirt.

                          MARY LEE
           You look nice.

                          ELLIS
           Thanks.

                          MARY LEE
           What time are you gonna be home?
           Ellis shrugs. She looks at him as the car radio rambles.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           No later than eleven?
           Ellis nods.

                          ELLIS
           You make up your mind?

                          MARY LEE
           About moving in town?

                          ELLIS
           About leavin' dad.
           Mary Lee thinks about how to answer, shuts off the radio.

                          MARY LEE
           You can't make other people change
           Ellis. If I'm unhappy then I'll
           have to be the one to change
           something.
           Ellis chews on the inside of his cheek and watches her avoid
           eye contact. He shoulders his way out of the car.
           Mary Lee takes a moment before driving off.
           As Mary Lee pulls away, Ellis takes in the scene.

          72 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - LATE AFTERNOON - ELLIS POV 72

           He looks up at Juniper's motel room and sees her leaning on
           the railing smoking a cigarette. She doesn't see him.

          73 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON - CONTINUOUS 73

           He pauses, noticing a MAN to his left who ALSO stares up at
           Juniper. The man, early thirties with a thick mustache, is
           JAMES. He leans against the grill of a black Lincoln.

           67.

                         
           Carver appears from inside the Piggly Wiggly. He holds a cup
           of coffee and is closely trailed by a fat little man,
           NELSON(56). They're all dressed in a similar fashion, a
           cross between rural farmers and rodeo stars.
           As Carver approaches the Lincoln, he scolds James for leaning
           on the grill. Carver rubs the hood with his coat sleeve and
           gives orders to the men.

           MAY PEARL (O.S.)
           Ellis!
           Ellis turns to see May Pearl hopping down from a Ford Bronco.
           She leans on the door and waves Ellis into the back.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           Come on!
           Ellis takes another look at Carver and his men before running
           over to the Bronco.

          74 EXT. FIELD/BONFIRE - NIGHT 74

           A bonfire rages in the middle of an open field. A FEW DOZEN
           KIDS mingle between vehicles and the fire. Drinking,
           yelling, music blasting from car speakers.
           Ellis stands by himself next to the blaze with his hands in
           his pockets. May Pearl has vanished.
           Pryor, the skinny kid Ellis punched to get this date, wanders
           past. He makes eye contact. Ellis stares him down. Pryor
           glares back but then just skulks over to another group.

           MAY PEARL (O.S.)
           Try this.
           A Styrofoam Sonic Cup is thrust into Ellis' hand. He turns
           to find May Pearl standing next to him.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           Come on.
           She leads Ellis behind one of the trucks parked nearby. May
           Pearl climbs onto the tailgate, a red glow across her face.
           No one else is around. Ellis hesitates.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           You wanna sit down?
           Ellis takes a seat next to her. She looks at him, smiling,
           and gestures to his black eye.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           You must really like to fight?

           68.

                         

                          ELLIS
           Not really.
          Ellis takes a sip from the Sonic cup. His face puckers.

                          MAY PEARL
           But you're not scared if you have
           to.

                          ELLIS
           I guess. You got a lot of friends.

                          MAY PEARL
           They're all right. I don't know
           all of `em.

                          ELLIS
           I bet you're pretty popular.

                          MAY PEARL
           Why do you say that?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know. `Cause you're nice
           to people.

                          MAY PEARL
           How do you know that?

                          ELLIS
           You're nice to me.

                          MAY PEARL
           But I like you.
          Ellis digs into his jeans pocket.

                          ELLIS
           I got this for you.
          He removes a bracelet made from the pearls he collected off
          Galen's porch. May Pearl takes it, begins putting it on.

                          MAY PEARL
           A bracelet?

                          ELLIS
           Neckbone's uncle caught the pearls.
           I thought with your name and
           everything...

                          MAY PEARL
           Thank you.
          She leans over, hugging him with a kiss on the cheek. She
          stays close.

           69.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You wanna be my girlfriend?
           She smiles, then kisses him.

          75 EXT. ELLIS' AND TOM'S HOUSEBOATS - MORNING 75

           Morning fog sits on top of the water around Ellis' houseboat.
           Ellis steps outside and makes his way to the ice machine. A
           loud WHISTLE comes from across the oxbow. Ellis walks to the
           edge of the garage.
          A75 He sees Tom Blankenship seated on the roof of his houseboat. A75
           He motions Ellis over.
           Ellis watches him, unsure of what to do. Another WHISTLE.
           Tom motions to him again. Ellis looks back at the house. No
           sign of his parents. He shoots a glance back at Tom.

          76 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - MOMENTS LATER 76

           Ellis bumps his father's boat against the side of Tom's
           houseboat. He steps up onto the deck and ties off.
           Tom, down from the roof, stands by his front door.

                          TOM
           You want some coffee?
           Tom disappears inside.

                          ELLIS
           I don't drink coffee.
           Ellis waits for a moment, but realizes this is Tom's way of
           inviting him inside. He enters.

          77 INT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 77

           This houseboat, although similar in size, is different than
           Ellis'. It's an actual wood shack that has been constructed
           atop a barge.
           Ellis looks at photos, books and memorabilia that cram the
           walls and shelves. It feels homey.
           Tom, his back to the boy, stands in the kitchen area pouring
           a cup of coffee.

                          TOM
           You been seein' Mud?

                          ELLIS
           No.

           70.

                         
          A collection of framed photos on a desk catches Ellis'
          attention. A young Tom with a pretty dark skinned girl.
          They seem happy. Another photo, late 60's, of Tom standing
          alone in a suit. He holds a LONG SUITCASE.
          Tom enters holding two cups of coffee.

                          TOM
           You don't have to lie to me boy.
          He hands Ellis a cup of coffee with a cartoon image of a dog
          on it. It reads, "I'm a real bitch in the morning!" Tom
          sits in a LazyBoy that he gently rocks in.

                          TOM (CONT'D)
           I've seen you runnin' around.
           Takin' things. He all right?

                          ELLIS
           He's okay.

                          TOM
           He get that boat down?
          Ellis nods. There is an awkward moment.

                          ELLIS
           He called you an assassin.
          Tom snorts out a laugh, sips his coffee.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Is it true?

                          TOM
           How long have you known Mud?

                          ELLIS
           Few days.

                          TOM
           Well that's long enough to know
           he's full of shit.

                          ELLIS
           So it's not true.

                          TOM
           I was a sharpshooter in the army.
           In Mud's world, that makes me an
           assassin. Not exactly true, right?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah I guess.
          Tom notices the boy's disappointment.

           71.

                         

                          TOM
           You think he's a bad ass don't you?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know.

                          TOM
           You know why he's stuck out on that
           island?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          (HESITATES)
           He shot somebody.

                          TOM
           He tell you why he shot that man?

                          ELLIS
           Because he hurt Juniper.

                          TOM
           Right. The real reason Mud's in
           the trouble he's got is because of
           her. He's been in love with that
           girl since he was your age. They
           used to run all around here and it
           was the same back then. He'd
           follow that girl wherever she led
           him. Problem is she don't care
           about nobody but herself. I've
           told him as much. She'd bed down
           with the meanest snake she could
           find, then when things went bad
           she'd go runnin' to Mud. Mud would
           take her back, then go find
           whatever unlucky sonofabitch last
           put a hand on her and beat `em `til
           they knew to never touch her again.
           And this time I guess he thought a
           beating wasn't good enough. Had to
           shoot that fella. I don't know for
           sure, but I'd put money on Juniper
           knowin' he'd do it. And I have a
           suspicion she might of even told
           him to. Either way, those two are
           set for failure. Only chance Mud
           has is to cut her loose. Cause
           I'll tell you what, Mud's no bad
           ass. He's runnin' scared.
          Ellis can't look Tom in the eye, he's offended by the old
          man's remarks. Ellis sets the coffee cup on the desk.

                          ELLIS
           I gotta go.
          Ellis heads for the door, but stops short.

           72.

                         

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           You're wrong about Juniper. They
           love each other and they're gonna
           make it. If you weren't a wore out
           old man you'd know it was true.
           Tom eyes the boy, taking a sip from his cup. He nods a
           goodbye to Ellis who is already out the door.

          78 EXT. ISLAND/BASE OF BOAT TREE - DAY 78

           Ellis stomps out of the trees and is struck by the new
           position of the boat. It hangs three feet off the ground;
           SUSPENDED in dry dock. A clear-cut path of trees leads off
           toward the island's southern shore.
           Beside the boat, remnants of a giant fire smolder. Ellis
           surveys the MOUND OF ASH.

           MUD (O.S.)
           What you say Ellis?
           Ellis turns to find Mud standing on the deck of the boat
           holding a fistful of wires. He jumps down.

                          ELLIS
           I got more stuff.

                          MUD
           You find a motor?

                          ELLIS
           Not yet.
           (points to the ash)
           What's that?

                          MUD
           I made a bonfire.
           Mud enters the woods. Ellis follows.

                          ELLIS
           Why?

                          MUD
           Bonfire's an all purpose cure all
           for bad luck. I don't know where
           this boat's been or what kind of
           person had it before me. For all I
           know it could have some serious bad
           business left on it. We got too
           much ridin' on this thing to leave
           to chance. Where's Neckbone?

                          ELLIS
           Helpin' his uncle with a dive.

           73.

                         

          79 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - MOMENTS LATER 79

           Mud and Ellis exit the treeline heading to Ellis' boat.

                          ELLIS
           Tom called me over to his place
           this mornin'.

                          MUD
           What he say?

                          ELLIS
           He was runnin' down Juniper.
           Ellis looks for a response, but Mud just jumps up into the
           boat and starts throwing pieces of wood on shore.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           I told him he was a wore out old
           man. Told him he couldn't know how
           much you loved Juniper.

                          MUD
           You don't know his story.

                          ELLIS
           I don't care.

                          MUD
           You should. Tom loved a woman more
           than most men could in two
           lifetimes. They had a good life
           started together.
           Mud hops down and scoops a load of wood into his arms.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           She was pregnant with a little boy,
           but the birth got the better of
           `em. They didn't make it. Tom's
           been alone ever since. Lone wolf.
           Mud has begun walking back to the treeline. Ellis stays.

                          ELLIS
           I gotta go help my dad.
           Mud turns back but doesn't stop moving.

                          MUD
           Thanks for the wood Ellis.
           Ellis watches him go, thinking on what he said.

           74.

                         

          80 EXT. UNDERWATER - RIVER - DAY 80

           Fully suited in diving gear, Galen toils in the murky brown
           water at the bottom of the river.
           His gear consists of a typical wet-suit, wet-socks but no
           gloves. His metal helmet is not typical. It's welded from
           half a hot water heater that's been fitted with barbell
           weights. A hose connected to the top runs to the surface.
           Galen ties off a netted sack and yanks on its line.

          81 EXT. RIVER - CONTINUOUS 81

           A small air compressor chugs as Neckbone stands in the middle
           of Galen's boat pulling in the heavy rope. At the end, the
           net bulging with mussel shells appears.
           He manages to roll the heavy load into the boat before moving
           over to a crank handle that feeds another line.
           After several cranks, Galen's steel helmet breaches the
           surface. He places his hands on the edge of the boat as
           Neckbone removes the barbell weights.
           The weight removed, Neckbone takes off the helmet. Galen
           pulls himself into the boat, out of breath.

                          GALEN
           This shit never gets easy.

                          NECKBONE
           That's a good haul.

                          GALEN
           I've had worse.
           Galen reclines as Neckbone kills the air compressor and
           begins organizing the gear. He watches his little nephew.

                          GALEN (CONT'D)
           You doin' all right?

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah.

                          GALEN
           You don't need to tell me anything?

                          NECKBONE
           Tell you what?

                          GALEN
           I know I'm just your uncle, not
           much of a parent. But you can tell
           me things if you need to.

           75.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           I can tell you this helmet smells
           like my duck butter.

          82 EXT. ELDERLY WOMAN'S HOUSE - DAY 82

           Ellis holds a wrought iron door open with his backside as an
           ELDERLY WOMAN takes the paper bag of fish from his hands.
           Ellis walks back to the truck. Senior watches him, looking
           at the black eye.

          83 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/CATFISH PARLOUR - MOVING - DAY 83
           Ellis rides up front with Senior. Windows down, no radio.

                          SENIOR
           Where'd you get that black eye?

                          ELLIS
           A kid in town. He got his too.

                          SENIOR
           What you fightin' for?

                          ELLIS
           `Bout a girl.

                          SENIOR
           What girl?

                          ELLIS
           My girlfriend.

                          SENIOR
           You got a girlfriend?

                          ELLIS
           Yes sir.

                          SENIOR
           When'd that happen?

                          ELLIS
           Other day.
           Senior pats his shirt pocket and finds a smoke. Lights it.

                          SENIOR
           You seen your mother today?

                          ELLIS
           No.

                          SENIOR
           You not talkin' to me?

           76.

                         

                          ELLIS
           I'm talkin'. I'm talkin' to both
           of you. That's all ya'll want to
           do is talk.

                          SENIOR
           Well, that's your mother. Would
           rather tongue lash a problem than
           step up and handle it. You'll see
           one day. Women are tough. They'll
           set you up for things. You can't
           trust love, Ellis. If you're not
           careful, it'll run out on you. You
           just gotta pick a woman and roll
           the dice. Hope you don't wake up
           in fifteen years hatin' each other.
           Ellis keeps staring out the window as they pull into the
           parking lot of the Catfish Parlour Restaurant.

          84 EXT. THE CATFISH PARLOUR/THE PINES MOTEL - LATE AFTERNOON- 84


                          CONTINUOUS
           Senior climbs out of the truck and enters the restaurant.
           Ellis pops open the tailgate and reaches for a cooler.
           The Catfish Parlour is one business in a strip center row.
           There is nothing else around save for farmland and a motel
           across the road.
           Ellis notices Carver's black LINCOLN parked in the motel lot.
           He walks away from the truck to get a better look.
           Ellis scans the FOUR OTHER VEHICLES in the lot. All Texas
           plates. A maroon Cadillac sails past and turns into the
           motel. Ellis recedes to the rear of his truck.
           He watches as KING(76), a fireplug of a man, emerges from the
           Cadillac. Cramped from a long drive, he stretches and eyes
           the sign for the Pines Motel.
           A motel room door opens and Carver walks out. He's smiling
           and calls out to King. They hug as a green PICK-UP pulls up.
           MILLER, a slick dressed man in black boots, climbs out.

           SENIOR (O.S.)
           Ellis! Let's go!
           Ellis snaps around to find Senior leaning out the restaurant
           door. Ellis yanks the cooler down and drags it inside. He
           looks back over his shoulder for a final glance at the men.

           AT THE MOTEL,

                          CARVER
           Daddy this is Miller. He's one of
           ours.

           77.

                         

                          KING

                          (SHAKING)
           How do you do? Appreciate your
           help.

                          MILLER
           Yes sir.

                          CARVER
           We'll be in in a minute.
           Miller nods and enters the motel room. King turns to Carver.

                          KING
           Catch me up.

                          CARVER
           They work in shifts. Two outside
           her motel, the others either out
           searching or sleepin' here. I met
           with the county sheriff but he
           wasn't much help. Said they'd
           handle their own business, but I
           got two of their people on payroll
           and a person on the inside at the
           state police.

                          KING
           Good. Doin' good. Who all's here?

                          CARVER
           All but two now. Nelson and James
           are watchin' her place. I called
           the rest in.

                          KING
           Okay. Let's meet the men.
           Carver leads his father to the motel room.

          85 INT. PINES MOTEL ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON - CONTINUOUS 85

           Carver holds the door open as King steps inside. A door to
           his left connects another room which is empty.
           An episode of the Smurfs plays on the television. There's a
           MAN on each of the queen beds. Another THREE playing cards
           at a small table by the window. MILLER stands in the corner
           smoking. Empty Budweiser cans litter the room.
           King, unimpressed by the scene, looks at his son. Carver
           quickly moves in front of the television and turns it off.
           He stares down the men on the beds.

           78.

                         

                          CARVER
           Get up.
           (to the others)
           Ya'll pay attention.
          The men get up from the beds and the others put down their
          cards. Everyone slowly gathers into an audience.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           This is my father, King. He runs
           the show.
          Carver recedes as King steps forward. He speaks like a high
          school football coach.

                          KING
           Men. I wanna thank you for the
           work you're doin'. It's important
           work, and I want you to know what
           it means to me personally. I'm
           grateful for it. No man should
           have to bury his son. It's not
           natural, and it's a pain I hope
           none of you ever have to endure.
          King removes a photocopied picture of Mud from his pocket.
          He unfolds it, stares at it, then raises it to the men.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           This man did that to me. He took
           my youngest boy. And now, you're
           gonna help me get him.
          King stares at the men, keeping the photo held high.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           Now gather `round. Come on now, in
           a circle. I want ya'll to join
           hands.
          They do it reluctantly.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           Everybody take a knee.
          They do. King joins them on his knee and grabs Carver and
          another Man's hands.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           Bow your heads. I need you to help
           me pray for the death of the man
           that killed my son.
          They all bow their heads.

           79.

                         

          A85 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - MORNING A85

           A tarp is thrown back from a rusting boat trailer.
           Ellis and Neckbone stand by the trailer looking less than
           thrilled. It's covered in junk and debris.

                          NECKBONE
           You touch her breast?

                          ELLIS
           A little.

                          NECKBONE
           That's great man.

                          ELLIS
           Thanks.
           Ellis walks up and knocks a stack of bricks off the trailer.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           We could take it apart. Bring it
           out piece by piece.

                          NECKBONE
           It's welded. We'd just tear it up.
           What if we float it out?

                          ELLIS
           With what?

                          NECKBONE
           Come on.
           Neckbone walks to the trailer. Ellis follows.

                         

          B85 INT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS B85

           The boys open the front door and are met by a BLINDING LIGHT.

                          NECKBONE
           Jesus!
           They squint and shield their eyes.
           The light shuts off as quickly as it came on. Galen stands
           in front of them wearing his wet suit. The bar with the
           flood lights attached sits across his shoulders.
           The boys rub their eyeballs, seeing spots. Galen shuffles
           over to the couch holding a marine battery connected to the
           lights. He labors to take a seat.

                          GALEN
           What do you think?

           79A.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           That's real good Galen.

                          (TO ELLIS)
           Gimme a minute.
          Neckbone, still blinking, goes back to his room. Ellis
          notices Galen staring at him. Galen pats the couch.

                          GALEN
           Come `ere Ellis.
          Ellis takes a seat on the other end of the couch. Galen pats
          the spot next to him. Ellis scoots over, uncomfortable.

                          GALEN (CONT'D)

                          (POINTING UP)
           You see that ceiling fan?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          GALEN
           I found it in the river. Works
           great. Best ceiling fan I've ever
           owned. This river brings a lotta
           trash down it. Some a that trash
           is worth a lotta money, some of
           it's not. You gotta know what's
           worth keepin' and what's worth
           lettin' go. You know the
           difference?

                          ELLIS
           I think so.

                          GALEN
           Neck looks up to you. Don't get my
           nephew into anything you can't get
           him out of.
          Galen forces a stare with Ellis, who nods. Neckbone enters
          as Galen begins to remove his light rig.

                          GALEN (CONT'D)
           Help Me Rhonda's just about a guy
           needing to get a piece to get over
           a girl that put one over on him.
           So you get your heart broke, don't
           walk around with a shit look on
           your face. Get back in there. Get
           your tip wet. You hear me?

                          ELLIS
           What?

                          GALEN
           You know what I'm sayin'.

           79B.

                         
           Ellis doesn't. Galen moves to an electric guitar leaning by
           a small amp in the corner.

                          GALEN (CONT'D)
           Ya'll wanna hang out? Alan's
           comin' over. We're gonna pump it
           up.

                          NECKBONE
           We got stuff to do.

                          GALEN
           Whatever.
           The boys exit as Galen turns on the amp.

                         

          C85 EXT. NECKBONE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS C85

           Galen pumps it up inside as Neckbone and Ellis walk to the
           boat trailer. Neckbone pulls a handful of long zip ties from
           his back pocket.

                          NECKBONE
           What were ya'll talkin' about?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know.

          86 EXT. ISLAND NORTHERN SHORE - DAY 86

           Mud's knife slices through a plastic zip tie.

                          MUD
           King. That's what they call him.
           A BOAT TRAILER rests atop FOUR, 55-GALLON BRIGHT YELLOW
           BARRELS affixed with plastic zip ties. The make-shift raft
           is half on shore with the back still floating in the water.
           The boys watch as Mud walks around the trailer cutting off
           the zip ties. The barrels kick out from underneath the
           trailer as this happens.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           He's their father. You didn't go
           near him did you?

                          ELLIS
           No.

                          MUD
           Good. That left-handed sonofabitch
           is the devil himself. If he's
           here, then it's time. We need to
           get Juniper out here.

           79C.

                         

                          ELLIS
           We still need a motor.

                          NECKBONE
           There's a motor in the scrap yard
           might work.

                          MUD
           I need one that runs.
          Mud moves to the front of the boat trailer and begins
          dragging it fully onto the bank. It's heavy.

                          NECKBONE
           I can get it runnin'. Tell him
           Ellis.

                          ELLIS
           It's true. He built his own dirt
           bike.

                          MUD
           All right then. Give it a shot.

                          ELLIS
           I don't know. That motor's worth
           somethin'. It's not like this
           other junk.

           80.

                         

                          NECKBONE
           It's been there for months.
           Nobody's even gonna know it's gone.
           Ellis hesitates. He looks to Mud.

                          MUD
           We do need a motor.
           Ellis thinks on it as Mud takes a deep breath and grabs the
           trailer again.

          87 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - DAY 87

           The supermarket is busy. Ellis stands at a pay phone out
           front as Neckbone kicks a vending machine nearby.
           Ellis looks at Juniper's motel. He scans the Piggly Wiggly
           parking lot and spots Carver's black Lincoln. Ellis picks up
           the phone and deposits some change. He dials.

                          ELLIS
           I wanna talk to room 212.

          88 I/E. JUNIPER'S MOTEL ROOM/PIGGLY WIGGLY - CONTINUOUS 88
           Juniper watches TV (o.s) at the foot of the bed. The phone
           rings. She snaps up, hits mute and grabs it.

                          JUNIPER
           Hello?

           INTERCUT WITH ELLIS,

                          ELLIS
           Juniper?

                          JUNIPER
           Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           It's me.

                          JUNIPER
           Thank god. I've been goin' crazy
           in this room. Is Mud okay?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah. It's time to take you out to
           him.

                          JUNIPER
           Now?

                          ELLIS
           Tomorrow. We'll come get you.

           81.

                         

                          JUNIPER
           What's goin' on?

                          ELLIS
           He's got a plan for ya'll to get
           away. Be ready tomorrow at five.
           Neckbone'll be waitin' at the back
           of the motel with a dirt bike.

                          JUNIPER
           They're watching my room.

                          ELLIS
           I'll take care of that. Just be
           ready at five.

                          JUNIPER
           Wait. Just wait. I don't know
           about alla this. I don't even know
           what he thinks we're gonna do.
           Where are we even gonna go? This
           is Mud. This is what Mud does.
          Ellis hears her crying through the phone.

                          ELLIS
           It's okay. He's got the boat. We
           helped him fix it up. It's a good
           plan. Just be ready.

                          JUNIPER
           Why are you even doing this?

                          ELLIS
           What do you mean?

                          JUNIPER
           Why are you helping us?

                          ELLIS
           Cause ya'll love each other.
          Juniper searches for a comment.
          Ellis, looking out over the parking lot, sees May Pearl
          getting out of a car with her MOTHER and SISTER.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           I'll see you tomorrow.

                          JUNIPER
           Wait.
          Dial Tone. Juniper holds the phone, worried.

           82.

                         

          89 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS 89

           Ellis turns and watches May Pearl push a cart in the parking
           lot with her family. Neckbone bangs at the Coke machine.

                          NECKBONE
           How'd it go?

                          ELLIS
           We're good.

          90 I/E. CARVER'S LINCOLN/PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - DAY 90
           Carver sits behind the wheel of his Lincoln. The man with
           the mustache, James, sits in the passenger seat next to him.
           Carver notices Ellis and Neckbone standing in front of the
           Piggly Wiggly. He climbs out.

           AT THE VENDING MACHINES,

                          NECKBONE
           Gimme a quarter. This shit took
           mine.
           Ellis watches May Pearl entering the grocery store. He calls
           out with a wave.

                          ELLIS

           MAY PEARL!
           Without stopping, May Pearl, along with her Sister and
           Mother, all turn. May Pearl sees him, but doesn't wave back.
           She continues inside.
           Ellis looks confused, then embarrassed. Neckbone notices.

                          NECKBONE
           It's all right man. She's with her
           family. Come on. I wanna get that
           motor before dark.
           They head to the dirt bike.

           CARVER (O.S.)
           Hey there!
           Ellis turns to see Carver approaching.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           You remember me don't you?
           Ellis nods. Carver notes the healing bruise on Ellis' face.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           I'm sure sorry about that. Ya'll
           caught me at a real bad time.

           83.

                         
          Ellis climbs on the bike. Carver walks over to them.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           Hold on now. One second. I don't
           want ya'll thinkin' I'm a bad guy.
           Ya'll were just trying to do a job,
           and I got in your way.
          Carver removes a roll of twenties and peels off two.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           Let's just say I bought that whole
           batch of fish ya'll were sellin'.
           Would forty cover it?

                          NECKBONE
           That'd bout do it.

                          ELLIS
           We don't want your money.
          Carver steps in close to the boys.

                          CARVER
           I bet ya'll really get around this
           town. Probably know every hole and
           ditch. Have ya'll come across the
           man whose picture I showed you?

                          ELLIS
           No.
          Carver removes a flier with Mud's picture and holds it out.

                          CARVER
           You sure about that? Take a look
           with your good eye.

                          ELLIS
           I'm sure.

                          CARVER
           What about that girl in the motel?
           The pretty one. Ya'll talk to her
           some more?

                          ELLIS
           No.
          Carver smiles. He tucks the flier and the forty dollars into
          Ellis' hand.

                          CARVER
           There's a number on there. Ya'll
           let me know if you do.

           84.

                         
           Neckbone cranks the engine and backs the bike up with his
           feet. They pull away.
           Moving, Ellis looks back to see Carver watching them.

          91 EXT. CRAWFORD'S JUNKYARD - DUSK 91

           Neckbone pulls back a loose section of chain-link fence
           surrounding the marine junkyard. Ellis crouches through.

           INSIDE THE JUNKYARD,
           Ellis and Neckbone creep through piles of starboard and boat
           parts. They stop at a party barge with only one pontoon. At
           its rear hangs a big rusted motor, 200 horsepower.
           Neckbone quickly disassembles its attachment. The motor pops
           loose leaving the boys to strain against its heavy weight.
           They ease it to the ground.

                          NECKBONE
           Jesus that's heavy.
           The boys get on either side of the motor and begin half-
           dragging it back to the fence line.

           ACROSS THE YARD,
           A LITTLE GIRL(10) dangles her feet off a loading platform and
           bites at an ice cream sandwich. She watches Neckbone and
           Ellis from a distance.

          92 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 92

           Ellis walks onto the houseboat as the sound of Neckbone's
           bike fades in the trees. He stops, noticing a PAPER BAG
           sitting on the water's edge of the boat. He goes over to it.
           He opens the sack and takes a quick inventory. A loaf of
           bread, potted meats, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a roll of
           cash, and an Arkansas boat tag.
           Ellis looks around, no one. He looks over to Tom's boat.
           It's dark. Ellis scoops up the sack and heads inside.

          93 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY PARKING LOT - LATE AFTERNOON 93

           The digital wristwatch changes from "4:59" to "5:00".
           Neckbone sits on his bike parked near the vending machines at
           the Piggly Wiggly. Ellis, on the payphone, scans the parking
           lot. No sign of Carver's Lincoln. No other Bounty Hunters.

                          NECKBONE
           Where are those bastards?

           85.

                         

                          ELLIS
           I don't know.

                          (HANGS UP)
           She's not answerin'.

                          NECKBONE
           What do you wanna do?

                          ELLIS
           Take your bike around the side.
           I'll check her room. We'll just
           have to hope no one sees us.
           Neckbone cranks the bike and speeds toward the motel. Ellis
           looks to the motel, then the parking lot.

          94 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - MOMENTS LATER 94


           ON THE SECOND FLOOR,
           Ellis cautiously heads up the stairs. He eyes the parking
           lot at the Piggly Wiggly but still sees no sign of Carver's
           men.
           He moves quickly toward Juniper's door. Checking over his
           shoulder, he knocks. No answer. He knocks again. Nothing.
           He peeks through the window. No lights. No movement.

          95 BY THE DIRT BIKE, 95
           Neckbone gets off his bike and slips to the corner of the
           building. As he peeks his head out, Ellis nearly knocks him
           over on his way downstairs. They both flinch.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit. Was she there?

                          ELLIS
           Nothin'.
           Ellis notices the front office

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Come on.

          96 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/FRONT OFFICE - CONTINUOUS 96

           The MOTEL CLERK(29) doesn't look up from his issue of
           Lowrider as Ellis and Neckbone enter.

                          ELLIS
           Scuse me, sir?

                          MOTEL CLERK
           Yeah.

           86.

                         

                          ELLIS
           We're lookin' for the girl in room
           212. You seen her?

                          MOTEL CLERK
           I've seen her.

                          ELLIS
           You see her today.

                          MOTEL CLERK
           Yeah, she came down askin' for
           directions to the nearest bar. I
           told her to head out to a place on

           61.
           Ellis digests this. They turn to leave.

           MOTEL CLERK (CONT'D)
           Wait a second, are ya'll the little
           bastards tryin' to sell fish to the
           guests?
           They're already out the door.

          97 EXT. ROADSIDE BAR - DUSK 97

           Ellis and Neckbone pull into the gravel lot in front of a
           roadside bar. The cinder block building sits by itself just
           off the highway. Cars and motorcycles fill the lot.

                          NECKBONE
           You think this is it?

                          ELLIS
           It's gotta be.

          98 INT. ROADSIDE BAR - CONTINUOUS 98

           The small bar is loud and crowded. Shoulder to shoulder
           PATRONS bump against one another as MUSIC blares.
           Neckbone and Ellis press through the crowd searching for
           Juniper. They are a good foot shorter than anyone else.
           Ellis notices a man at the bar. It's Miller, the bounty
           hunter from King's motel. He's staring at something across
           the room. Ellis follows his line of sight.
           The crowd weaves in front of him, but then he sees her.
           Juniper leans against a pool table at the far end of the bar.
           A GUY(32) whispers in her ear and kisses her neck. She
           throws her head back, laughing. Ellis watches in disbelief.
           Nearby, the BARTENDER(46) fills a customer's shot glass. The
           two underage kids catch his attention.

           87.

                         
           Ellis' face is frozen, locked on Juniper. Neckbone places a
           hand on his shoulder.
           Juniper's eyes drift toward the boys. She makes eye contact
           with Ellis, and her smile vanishes. The Guy keeps whispering
           in her ear. Juniper straightens her back slightly.
           Ellis can't take his eyes off her. Juniper stares back at
           him, but doesn't make a move.
           After a moment, Juniper's eyes fall to the floor. She turns
           her head back to the Guy. The crowd fills back in and the
           image is out of Ellis' reach.

           BARTENDER (O.S.)
           What the hell are ya'll doin'?!
           The Bartender swoops in, grabbing them both by the backs of
           their necks and shoving them toward the door. Ellis strains
           against the thick hand. He tries to get another look at
           Juniper, but it's too crowded.

                         

          99 EXT. ROADSIDE BAR - DUSK - CONTINUOUS 99

           The Bartender flings Ellis and Neckbone into the parking lot.
           Neckbone slides on the loose gravel.

                          BARTENDER
           Ya'll stay outta here!
           Ellis just stands staring at the front door. The Bartender
           makes a swatting motion toward them.

                          BARTENDER (CONT'D)

           I SAID GET OUTTA HERE!!!
           Neckbone gathers his friend and leads him away.

                          NECKBONE
           Thanks a lot asshole!

                          (TO ELLIS)
           Come on man.
           They head over to Neckbone's dirt bike. He pulls out the key
           and climbs on. Ellis hesitates.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           I'll take you home.

                          ELLIS
           We're gonna have to tell Mud.
           Neckbone drops his head, nods reluctantly.

           88.

                         

          100 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - NIGHT 100

           The boys struggle to pull the heavy motor out of their boat.
           It hits the shoreline with a thud. They lean over it,
           sucking air.

                          ELLIS
           Just leave it. Mud'll have to help
           get it.

                          NECKBONE
           What're you gonna tell him?

                          ELLIS
           I'll just tell him the truth.

          101 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - NIGHT 101

           Mud stands at the back of the boat, which now rests on the
           boat trailer near the water. His face is clean shaven and
           his hair is wetted back. His shirt, still filthy, is tucked
           into his pants.
           He whistles and works by the light of a small fire nearby.
           Ellis steps out from behind a tree. He's holding the grocery
           sack that was left on his houseboat.

                          ELLIS

           MUD!
           Mud, hearing the voice, quickly puts down his tools and turns
           to the woods. He smooths his clothes down.

                          MUD
           What you say there?!
           Ellis appears out of the dark, followed by Neckbone. Mud's
           eyes search the treeline for Juniper.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           What you say Ellis?
           Ellis can't look him in the eye.

                          ELLIS
           We got that motor.

                          MUD
           Is Juniper okay?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          MUD
           Where is she?

           89.

                         

                          ELLIS
           She didn't meet up with us.

                          MUD
           What happened? Was it Carver?

                          ELLIS
           It wasn't Carver.
          Mud straightens up, prepares for the news.

                          MUD
           What's goin' on Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           She was supposed to meet us on the
           side of the motel. She never
           showed up. We went asking for her.
           The motel clerk told us she went to
           a bar out on 61.

                          MUD
           What?

                          ELLIS
           We tracked her down. She was there
           with another guy.

                          (HESITATES)
           They were together.
          Mud's face drops. He walks to the fire and shakes a cooking
          pot resting in the coals. The pot bubbles with roof tar.

                          MUD
           She probably thought Carver was on
           to her.

                          ELLIS
           She knew the plan Mud. She just
           didn't show up.

                          MUD
           What was she doin' with the other
           guy?
          Ellis hesitates, not wanting to say. Mud pushes.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           What were they doin' Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           They were playin' pool. Drinkin'.
           He was close up on her. They were
           laughin'. He kissed her on the
           neck.
          Mud nods.

           90.

                         

                          MUD
           And that's how it is.
           He takes the pot of roofing tar over to the boat and begins
           pasting some of the newly replaced boards with a flat stick.

                          ELLIS
           What do you want us to do?

                          MUD
           Just go home Ellis.
           Ellis looks at Neckbone, then sets the grocery sack on the
           ground.

                          ELLIS
           Tom left this for you.
           They slowly retreat into the woods and disappear.
           Mud turns back to the campfire and shoves the pot into the
           ashes. His eyes, soft and red, reflect the flame.

          102 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - NIGHT 102

           Ellis and Neckbone motor away from the island in the flat
           bottom boat. They look back at the shore.

                          ELLIS
           You think it's all right to leave
           him alone?!

                          NECKBONE
           I doubt it!
           Neckbone sees Ellis' concern.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           I'll sleep over at your house
           tonight! We can check on him first
           thing tomorrow!
           Ellis nods. As they head further up river, the island grows
           smaller, silhouetted by the moonlight.

          103 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - MORNING 103

           Neckbone snores, sprawled out on top of a sleeping bag on the
           floor. Ellis sits up in bed with something on his mind.
           He gets up and steps gingerly over Neckbone to exit the room.

          104 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 104

           The house is silent. Ellis slips into the kitchen and picks
           up the phone receiver mounted on the cabinet.

           91.

                         
          He pulls the cord out to stand with his face in the corner.
          He dials, waits, and speaks softly into the receiver.

                          ELLIS
           Hello? Is May Pearl there...This
           is Ellis...I called yesterday, you
           give her my message?...My name is
           Ellis. I'm her boyfriend...Oh,
           she's asleep...I said she's asleep?
          The front door flies open. Senior storms headlong toward
          Ellis. He shouts.

                          SENIOR

           MARY LEE!
          Ellis turns as Senior yanks the phone by the cord. It snaps
          out of Ellis' hand and smashes apart on the floor. Ellis
          flinches at the sight of his father flying at him.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           What the hell have you been doing?

           WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOIN'?!!
          Senior grabs Ellis by the arms and shoves him against the den
          wall. Mary Lee comes running from her room.

                          MARY LEE

           SENIOR! SENIOR DAMMIT!
          She slaps at her husband's arms and back. He swats her away.

                          SENIOR
           You tell her. You tell her what
           you've been up to.

                          ELLIS
           I don't know what you're sayin'.

                          MARY LEE
           Take your hands off him Senior!
          Senior keeps Ellis pinned to the wall with his left hand. He
          opens up and addresses Mary Lee with his right.

                          SENIOR
           J.J. Crawford said a boat motor
           went missin' from his stock yard.
           Said his daughter saw this one and
           his friend haulin' it off.
          This makes Mary Lee pause.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Now you tell me right now, did you
           steal that motor?

           92.

                         

                          ELLIS
           We didn't steal it.

                          SENIOR
           Lie to me again.

                          ELLIS
           We thought it was junk. We didn't
           think it was worth anything.

                          MARY LEE
           Ellis?
          A cool anger rushes over Senior's face. He releases Ellis
          and takes a step back.

                          SENIOR
           You tell me I raised a thief?

                          ELLIS
           I'm not a thief.

                          SENIOR
           You take property that's not yours.
           Property that belongs to another
           man. That junk is his livelihood.
           I'm ashamed of you.
          Ellis drops his head. His face flushed.

                          MARY LEE
           Senior.

                          SENIOR
           (to Mary Lee)
           Shut your mouth. You think you can
           take things and not have him see
           it? Neither one of you has any
           respect for a man's livelihood. A
           life that puts clothes on your back
           and food in your stomach.

                          MARY LEE
           Don't you blame this on me. One
           doesn't have a thing to do with the
           other and you know it.

                          SENIOR
           Don't tell me what I know. If you
           can steal a man's life out from
           under him in front of your son and
           think he won't take a lesson from
           it than you're even dumber than you
           look.

                          ELLIS
           Stop it dad.

           93.

                         
          Senior volleys a finger at Ellis.

                          SENIOR
           She's raisin' you a snake like
           herself, and you can curl up with
           her `fore I give a damn. You just
           remember this when you watch them
           rip this house apart board by
           board. You Hear Me!
          Mary Lee slaps Senior hard. He turns to her, saying nothing.

                          MARY LEE
           You're a man who's never had the
           strength to support his own life.
           I never asked you for a thing, and
           I've never took a thing from you
           that I couldn't provide for on my
           own. If they do tear my home apart
           the only joy I'll have in my heart
           is knowin' that they'll be tearing
           you out of my life for good.
          She wipes her eyes and turns her attention to Ellis.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           Ellis. You'll return that motor
           from where you found it and you'll
           apologize in person to the man you
           took it from. I won't hear about
           anything like this again.
          Mary Lee walks to the front door. She collects her purse and
          keys and exits quietly.
          Senior and Ellis stand in silence, which feels even more
          uncomfortable than the shouting. Ellis finally speaks.

                          ELLIS
           I can't take that motor back. But
           I'll pay him for it. I'll pay him
           what he wants for it.
          Senior, stoic, pivots his body away from the boy.

                          SENIOR
           I don't care what you do Ellis.
          Senior retreats to the bedroom. Ellis is left alone in the
          wake.
          He looks to his room. The door opens slightly and Neckbone
          takes a step out. Neckbone doesn't say anything. He just
          bites at his lip, sympathy for his friend.

           94.

                         

          105 EXT. ISLAND SHORE LANDING - DAY 105

           Charred hunks of driftwood smolder in a ruined pile on the
           sand. They constitute the remains of a large bonfire.
           Neckbone and Ellis stare at the ash.

                          NECKBONE
           What the hell's all this?

                          ELLIS
           It's a bonfire.

                          NECKBONE
           I guess he didn't care about bein'
           seen.
           Ellis kicks at one of the burned logs. He bends down and
           finds the bottle of Jack Daniels, smashed.

                          ELLIS
           He had something else on his mind.
           Come on.
           Ellis leads Neckbone into the treeline.

          106 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 106

           Mud's yellow shirt hangs, partially ripped, from a tree
           branch. Ellis pulls it off the limb.
           Concerned, they head deeper into the woods, over the fallen
           tree trunk that bridges the creek.

          107 EXT. ISLAND WOODS AND SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 107

           The boys watch Mud through the trees at a distance. He's
           crouched on the deck of the boat fiddling with wiring. Mud,
           giving no sign he sees the boys, yells out to them.

                          MUD
           What are ya'll hidin' for?
           Mud drops the wiring and scales down to the bank. They
           emerge from the woods. Ellis carries the yellow shirt.

                          ELLIS
           We found your shirt.
           Ellis tosses it to him. Mud tosses it back.

                          MUD
           Keep it. I don't need it anymore.
           Mud goes to the motor at the rear to tinker with more wires.

           95.

                         

                          ELLIS
           We saw what's left of your bonfire.

                          (NO RESPONSE)
           Somebody could've seen you.

                          MUD
           I guess.

                          ELLIS
           You do some drinkin' last night?

                          MUD
           I did a lot of drinkin' last night.
          Mud stops and walks over to address the boys. His face is
          pale and his manner is curt.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           Neck I'm gonna need you here to get
           the motor runnin'. Ellis I need
           you to do something else for me.
          Mud removes a folded note from his back pocket.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I need you to take this to Juniper.

                          ELLIS
           Okay Mud.
          Ellis takes the letter. Mud goes back to the boat motor. He
          motions to Neckbone to join him.

                          MUD
           Let's go.

                          ELLIS
           You still takin' Juniper?

                          MUD
           I had a dream last night. I saw
           Juniper laying in a field with
           another man. They were making
           love. I walked out into the field.
           Walked toward `em. I was so angry
           the tips of my ears were burnin'.
           That's how I knew I was gonna kill
           this man. But when I got up close
           enough, I saw that the man she was
           with had tattoos on his back, just
           like mine. I moved in closer and
           the guy turns his head back toward
           me. Hair for hair, dead truth, the
           guy she was with was me.
          Mud ducks back under the motor. Ellis looks at Neckbone,
          worried.

           96.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I'll finish the boat, but I'd be
           surprised if I live long enough to
           sail on it. A vision of yourself
           is a sure sign of death. Neck can
           you grab me a socket wrench?
           Neckbone and Ellis walk to the toolbox sitting nearby. They
           crouch by it, speaking quietly.

                          NECKBONE
           You be all right?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah. What about you?

                          NECKBONE
           He'll be okay.

                          ELLIS
           Can I borrow your bike?
           Neckbone fishes the key out of his pocket. Hesitates.

                          NECKBONE
           Don't tump it.
           Ellis nods. Neckbone walks over to Mud with the toolbox.
           Letter in hand, Ellis gives a final look toward Mud's labor
           and walks back into the woods. On his way, he stops to hang
           Mud's shirt on a tree branch.

          108 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - DAY 108

           Ellis rides in the flat bottom boat alone. He stares at the
           letter in his hand.

          109 EXT. PIGGLY WIGGLY - DAY 109

           Ellis sits on the dirt bike. He scans the parking lot. No
           black Lincoln. His eyes stop on a green pick-up. Miller,
           sits inside.
           Ellis looks around and finds a pay phone nearby. He gets off
           the bike and walks toward it. Ellis removes the flier Carver
           gave him. He dials a phone number copied at the bottom.

                          ELLIS
           (into the phone)
           Hello. I saw the guy you're
           lookin' for...Yeah, he's crazy
           lookin'. Saw him at the Wal-mart
           outside of Gillet. He was buyin'
           some beanie weenie...'bout five
           minutes ago.

           97.

                         
           Ellis hangs up the phone. He walks back over to the bike,
           climbs on and waits.
           After a moment, he watches as Miller's green pick-up pulls
           out of the Piggly Wiggly parking lot and races away. Ellis
           cranks the bike.

          110 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 110

           Ellis, at a slight crouch, keeps his eyes on the Piggly
           Wiggly parking lot. The green pick-up is nowhere in sight.
           At Juniper's door, he knocks twice, softly. The door swings
           opens. Juniper stands there, holding a lit cigarette.

                          JUNIPER
           I was wonderin' when I'd see you.
           Ellis checks over his shoulder and walks inside

          111 INT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 111

           The bed is unmade and the room is a bit of a mess. Ellis
           keeps his head down. Juniper closes the door and takes a
           seat on the edge of the bed. She grabs the remote control
           and mutes the television.

                          JUNIPER
           I'm sorry about last night. I
           didn't plan on...
           Before she can finish Ellis has fished the letter out of his
           pocket and holds it out to her.

                          ELLIS
           I'm supposed to give this to you.
           Juniper takes the letter.

                          JUNIPER
           Okay.
           Ellis goes to the door. He pulls the bedroom curtain back
           slightly to check the parking lot. The coast is clear.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Did you read it?

                          ELLIS
           No. I gotta go.

                          JUNIPER
           Ellis?
           He turns to her.

           98.

                         

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           I'm sorry.

                          ELLIS
           All you had to do was be there.

                          JUNIPER
           I couldn't.

                          ELLIS
           Then why'd you even come here?

                          JUNIPER
           I came here to leave with him. I
           really did. But now...now I guess
           I just came to say goodbye.
          His eyes fall to the floor.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           You don't know us Ellis. We've
           been headin' this way for a long
           time.

                          ELLIS
           I know he'd do anything for you.
          She puts her cigarette out in a Coke can on the floor.

                          JUNIPER
           You really believe that?
          Ellis nods. Juniper speaks to him gently, almost smiling.
          It's a look of resignation.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Mud's a born liar. That's what
           makes him so likable. He makes
           people feel good about themselves.
           He's a romantic. I don't think he
           means to hurt people. But when
           people get close to him, that's
           what happens.
          Ellis watches her as she goes to the sink and wets the end of
          a towel. She dabs her eyes at the mirror.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           I do love him Ellis. But I can't
           spend the rest of my life runnin'
           with him. I may not know what kind
           of life I want, but I know that's
           not it.
          Her back to him, Ellis watches as she unfolds the letter and
          begins reading. He angles himself to see her face in the
          mirror. He watches her eyes scanning the words. No emotion.

           99.

                         
           She finishes, folds the letter back up, then turns to him.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Tell him I understand.

                          ELLIS
           What's it say?

                          JUNIPER
           It says it's over. Tell him I've
           packed my things. Tell him I've
           gone.
           She takes a deep breath and smiles at him.

                          JUNIPER (CONT'D)
           Bye Ellis.
           Ellis turns and walks out.

          112 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN/JUNIPER'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS 112

           Ellis, dejected, no longer bothers to look over his shoulder.
           He walks to the staircase but stops there. Feeling the need
           to say something more, he goes back to her room.
           He puts his knuckle flat on the door but hesitates. He leans
           over and looks through the window.
           The sliver in the curtain gives him a glimpse. Juniper is
           curled up on the end of the bed. She is sobbing.
           Ellis watches longer than he should before pulling his head
           away from the window. Ellis heads back downstairs.

          113 EXT. INTERSECTION/SONIC DRIVE-IN - DAY 113

           Ellis, riding the dirtbike, looks to his left into the Sonic
           Drive-In parking lot. The high school kids have gathered
           there again.
           He notices a rust colored Ford coup. The driver, an older
           kid named KYLE(18), sits beside May Pearl laughing.
           Ellis steers into traffic and crosses the street. He pulls
           onto a patch of grass at the edge of the Sonic parking lot.
           In one motion, Ellis tumps the bike on its side and makes a b-
           line for the coup.

           INSIDE THE CAR,
           Kyle's hand is on May Pearl's knee.

           100.

                         

                          KYLE
           So what'd she say?

                          MAY PEARL
           She said she didn't like him that
           much. I told her I thought he was
           all right.
          Ellis appears with his elbows in the driver's side window.
          He sticks his head so far in the door that Kyle has to lean
          back in his seat to make room. May Pearl is surprised. Kyle
          snorts out a laugh.

                          ELLIS
           You get my phone calls?

                          MAY PEARL
           What?

                          ELLIS
           I've been callin' you.
           (motions with his head)
           Who's this guy?

                          KYLE
           Get your head outta my car kid.
          Ellis takes his right elbow and quickly knocks Kyle in the
          mouth. It splits his upper lip. Kyle grabs his face.

                          KYLE (CONT'D)
           Shit!

                          MAY PEARL
           Ellis!

                          ELLIS
           I called you twice yesterday. Your
           sister didn't tell you?
          Kyle slings the door open knocking Ellis to the pavement.
          From the ground, Ellis can see that Kyle is big and
          considerably tougher than the skinny kid he punched before.
          Kyle's friends from other cars take notice and begin to
          converge on them.
          Ellis makes a move for Kyle's legs but is kicked back to the
          pavement. Kyle straddles him on the ground and punches him.
          Another punch to Ellis' face. May Pearl is out of the car
          and yelling.

                          MAY PEARL
           Kyle! Stop it Kyle!

           101.

                         
          May Pearl pulls Kyle by the collar. By his own will, he
          raises off of Ellis, keeping an eye on him.
          A streak of blood stretches from Ellis' nose to his ear. He
          gets to his feet, dazed.
          Ellis wipes at his nose and sees May Pearl shove Kyle. Kyle
          smiles and turns to his friends, who laugh. The CROWD that
          has collected consists of older high school guys and girls.
          Ellis steps toward May Pearl and is met with a shove too.

           MAY PEARL (CONT'D)
           What the hell are you doin' here
           Ellis?!

                          ELLIS
           What?

                          MAY PEARL
           You can't just run up and punch
           people I'm with!

                          ELLIS
           I'm sorry, I just wanted to know
           why you hadn't called me back.

           I...

                          MAY PEARL
           Why would I call you back Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           Because you're my girlfriend.
          The crowd is watching.

                          MAY PEARL
           I'm not your girlfriend! We went
           on one date. One!

                          ELLIS
           We kissed.

                          MAY PEARL
           That doesn't matter!

                          ELLIS
           Yeah but...

                          MAY PEARL
           But what Ellis?! What did you
           expect?!

                          ELLIS
           I love you.

           102.

                         

                          MAY PEARL
           You're fourteen!

                          ELLIS
           Don't. Wait. We can make this
           work. We can figure it out. I
           love you.

                          MAY PEARL
           What?
           Ellis is losing it. His eyes are red. He looks at the crowd
           of kids. There are smiles and some snickering. May Pearl is
           speechless. She just stares at him.
           Ellis turns and walks back to the dirt bike.
           May Pearl's girlfriends gather around her. She shakes her
           head, dumbstruck.
           Ellis lifts the bike off the ground. He looks back at May
           Pearl who appears to be shrugging off the whole affair in
           front of her friends. Ellis speeds off.

          114 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/RIVERBANK - DAY 114

           A fire snaps and pops on the riverbank next to Ellis'
           houseboat.
           Ellis drags a piece of particle board from a trash pile
           nearby. He drops the board onto the fire and stands back to
           watch the blaze. Neckbone's bike leans on a tree behind him.
           Senior's truck rattles to a stop in the gravel just down the
           bank. He jumps out of the cab exasperated by the fire his
           son has started by their home.

                          SENIOR
           What the hell are you doin'?!
           Ellis says nothing. He doesn't move. Senior, continuing to
           yell, runs and drags a hose up from the houseboat.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Ellis dammit! What the hell's
           wrong with you?!
           The fire hisses as Senior turns the hose on it.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Ellis? Look at me.
           Ellis finally looks up at his father. A phone RINGS from
           inside the houseboat. Senior holds the hose in front of him.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Take it. Put this damn thing out.

           103.

                         
           Ellis takes the hose as Senior stomps on board to catch the
           phone. Ellis drops the hose.
           Senior's voice, speaking into the telephone, faintly carries
           outside. He's yelling. Ellis turns his head to listen.

           SENIOR (O.S.) (CONT'D)
           I don't give a shit! Fine! I
           don't care what you do! I'm done
           with it!
           Ellis moves around the fire so he can see the houseboat
           through the flames. He hears the phone SLAM down.
           Senior appears at the back door. He stares at Ellis through
           the fire. Ellis moves to the side but realizes Senior isn't
           staring at him. He's staring at the fire.
           Senior disappears back into the house. There is a commotion.
           Ellis watches as Senior bursts out of the house holding an
           armful of woman's clothes. Senior walks up to the bonfire
           and begins tossing clothes on top piece by piece.

                          ELLIS
           What are you doing?
           Ellis watches as dresses and blouses begin to shrivel up in
           the flames.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Stop it! That's mom's stuff! STOP

           IT!
           Ellis shoves at Senior. He easily counters the boy with his
           arm and continues tossing the clothes into the fire. Ellis
           is screaming and crying.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)

           STOP IT! STOP!
           Ellis tries yanking the remaining clothes out of his father's
           hands but Senior shakes him off. Ellis stumbles. He watches
           with tears as Senior tosses all of the clothes on.
           Senior watches his wife's clothes burn. Ellis backs away to
           the bike. He climbs on, cranks the engine and speeds off.

          115 EXT. ISLAND SHORE - DAY 115

           Ellis grounds the flat-bottom on shore and jumps out.

          116 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 116

           Ellis thrashes through the woods. His muddy feet stomp
           across the fallen tree trunk that bridges the creek.

           104.

                         

          117 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 117

           The boat rests on its trailer on the edge of the bank. Mud
           stands on board looking down at the motor. Neckbone, tools
           in hand, has his head buried in the motor.

                          NECKBONE
           Try it now.
           Mud turns a switch. No result.

                          MUD
           Nothin'.

                          NECKBONE
           Sonofabitch.
           Ellis emerges from the treeline. Mud sees him and hops down
           from the boat. He walks up to him.

                          MUD
           What'd she...
           Ellis punches Mud with as much force as he can muster. It's
           barely enough to turn Mud's face, but it stuns him.

                          ELLIS
           You're a liar. Makin' two kids run
           around doin' work you're too scared
           to do yourself. Makin' me tell her
           it's over `cause you're too scared
           to do it yourself.
           Mud steps back and gives the boy his space. Neckbone has
           made his way over and watches from behind Mud.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           You said you loved her and you
           lied. You gave up on her and she
           gave up on you just like everybody
           else. I trusted you. Bonfires and
           crosses. Wolf's eye bullshit.
           Mud tries to approach him but the boy explodes, shoving him.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)

           EVERYTHING YOU'VE TOLD ME WAS A
           LIE! You never cared about her.
           You never cared about us. Not like
           you said. Not enough to matter.
           You used us.

                          MUD
           Come on Ellis.
           Mud holds a hand out to him. Ellis slaps it away.

           105.

                         

                          ELLIS
           You made me a thief!
           Ellis walks back into the woods. Mud exhales and turns back
           to Neckbone.

                          NECKBONE
           Let me talk to him.

          118 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 118

           Ellis walks through the woods. Neckbone follows.

                          NECKBONE
           Ellis! Ellis, stop for a second!
           Neckbone watches as Ellis reaches the tree trunk that bridges
           the creek. Ellis steps onto the log, but his muddy shoes
           miss a step. He SLIPS.
           Neckbone sees Ellis disappear down into the creek bed.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)

           ELLIS!
           Neckbone rushes over. He cranes his neck out to peer over
           the edge, a solid eight foot drop into the creek.
           Ellis floats face up in the shallow water. He's unconscious.
           A wound on his head from a nearby rock.
           The nest of WATER MOCCASINS has been disturbed; SNAKES WRITHE

           AROUND ELLIS' BODY.
           Neckbone's eyes widen. He darts back toward the shore.

          119 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - DAY 119

           Mud stands at the rear of the boat massaging his jaw.

           NECKBONE (O.S.)

           MUD! MUD!
           Mud hears the yelling. Neckbone explodes from the trees.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)

           MUD! ELLIS FELL! HE FELL IN THE

           CREEK!
           Mud rushes forward.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)

           HE FELL INTO SNAKES! THE SNAKES!
           Mud stops.

           106.

                         

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)

           MUD PLEASE!
           Mud looks around. His shirt hangs from a tree limb nearby.
           He snags it and darts into the woods.

          120 EXT. ISLAND WOODS/CREEK - DAY 120

           Mud streaks through the woods as he gets his other arm
           through the shirt sleeve. He reaches the creek.
           Without hesitating, Mud leaps down into the water, scoops
           Ellis into his arms and scales up the opposite side of the
           creek bed.
           Mud sprints for the north side of the island. Neckbone
           chases after them.

          121 EXT. NORTHERN SHORE AND RIVER - DAY 121

           Mud cradles Ellis in his arms as he rushes to the flat-bottom
           boat. He sets Ellis gently inside. Neckbone on his heels.
           Mud shoves the boat into the water and hops in. Neckbone
           wades out and crawls up the side of the boat.

                          MUD
           Get the motor started.
           Neckbone cranks the motor. As they move up river, Mud
           searches Ellis' body. He looks at his neck, his arms, he
           pulls up his shirt.

                          NECKBONE
           IS HE OKAY?! Is he bit?!
           Mud notices Ellis' jeans leg riding up. He pulls the jeans
           back. A BITE in the middle of his calf. It's a bluish
           bruise with two distinct red dots. The skin around the bite
           has already begun to swell.

                          MUD
           Shit.
           He rips the jeans up to the thigh. Mud tears a section of
           cloth from the bottom of his own shirt and creates a
           tourniquet just below Ellis' knee.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           What time is it?
           Mud pulls a black Sharpie out of his pocket. Neckbone
           doesn't answer, just stares.

                          MUD (CONT'D)

           WHAT TIME IS IT?!

           107.

                         
           Neckbone checks his watch.

                          NECKBONE
           It's four eighteen!
           Mud draws a line on Ellis' leg just above the swollen bite.
           He writes, "418".

                          MUD
           Yell out every 10 minutes!
           Mud elevates Ellis' leg then gently cups his head. He dabs
           the gash on Ellis' forehead.

                          NECKBONE
           Is he gonna be okay?!

                          MUD
           We just need to get him to a
           clinic! Is there still one in
           town?!

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah!

                          MUD
           It's the closest?!

                          NECKBONE
           Yeah!

                          MUD
           I'm gonna need your bike!

                          NECKBONE
           Are you bit?!
           Mud shakes his head.

                          MUD
           No.
           He holds Ellis as they move steadily up river.

          122 EXT. RIVERBANK - DAY 122

           The flat bottom boat approaches the riverbank. Neckbone
           points to the sandy ridge and yells up to Mud.

                          NECKBONE
           My bike should be just over that
           ridge!
           Mud looks at Ellis' leg. The swelling has crept up his
           thigh. Black lines with numbers mark its progress: "428,
           438, 448". Ellis' face has taken on a blue tint.

           108.

                         
           The boat hasn't reached the shore, but Mud takes Ellis in his
           arms and jumps into the water. He wades onto the bank.

          123 AT THE BIKE, 123
           Mud straddles it, turning Ellis' body so they are face to
           face. He cranks the bike and speeds away.
           Neckbone makes it to the top of the ridge in time to see Mud
           disappear into the trees.

          124 EXT. TWO-LANE HIGHWAY - DAY 124

           Mud speeds the dirt bike down the two-lane highway. He's far
           too big for the bike and it's even trickier balancing Ellis.
           Coming up on a slow moving pick-up overloaded with junk, Mud
           veers into the opposing lane.

           ONCOMING TRAFFIC.
           Mud darts back to his lane in time to miss a semi.

          125 EXT. CLINIC - DAY 125

           A MALE NURSE(36) wheels an ELDERLY MAN through the sliding
           double front doors of a small clinic.
           Mud appears around the corner. The bike speeding toward the
           entrance.
           In a fluid motion, Mud takes Ellis in his arms and lifts his
           leg over the bike. The bike tilts and slides across the
           pavement, smacking solidly into the curb.
           Mud has managed to stay on his feet with the boy in his arms
           and rushes through the automatic front doors.

          126 INT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 126

           The reception area has a DOZEN PATIENTS sitting in it. A
           check-in desk to the left. Mud holds Ellis out in his arms.

                          MUD

           I NEED HELP HERE!
           A FEMALE NURSE rushes out of the check-in area.

                          FEMALE NURSE
           Just stay calm. What's going on?

                          MUD
           He's been snake bit.
           ANOTHER NURSE rushes off calling for a doctor. The room
           becomes more frenzied. Patients talking. Nurses shouting.

           109.

                         

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           He's snake bit. A cotton mouth.
           On his calf. Just under an hour.
           As quickly as Mud gets this out, a GROUP of NURSES rush out
           of a door at the end of the room pushing a gurney.
           They take Ellis from Mud's arm, place him on the gurney, and
           speed him into the back of the clinic.
           The commotion gone, the reception area feels oddly still.
           Mud takes a deep breath.
           He looks to his right. Patients stare at him. He's beyond
           disheveled. He's crazy looking.
           Mud turns to his left. The Male Nurse stares at him. For
           the first time, Mud realizes he's out in the open.

                          MALE NURSE
           Sir?
           Mud slowly backs up.

           MALE NURSE (CONT'D)
           Sir? We're gonna need some
           information?
           Mud backs out of the automatic doors. The entire room stares
           at him.

          127 EXT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 127

           Mud is outside. The glass doors close. He nervously checks
           over his shoulders. He spots a bank of trees just down from
           the clinic. He heads for them.
           The front doors slide open and the Male Nurse walks out.

                          MALE NURSE
           Sir?!
           Mud hops into the bank of trees and disappears.

          128 INT. CLINIC - CONTINUOUS 128

           The Patients in the reception area settle back into their
           seats and discuss the commotion.
           The Male Nurse enters and walks behind the check-in window.

           IN THE WINDOW,
           The Male Nurse fingers through a pile of papers.

           110.

                         
           He removes one of the fliers that Carver and his men have
           been showing. The Nurse studies the photo, looking back at
           the front doors.
           He picks up the phone and dials the number at the bottom.

          129 INT. PINES MOTEL - CONTINUOUS 129

           In the adjoining room, the phone rings. King steps through
           the doorway, takes a seat on the bed, and answers.

                          KING
           Hello...Yes...Yessir we are...Uh
           huh.
           King takes a pen from his shirt pocket and scribbles on a pad
           on the nightstand.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           Now where'd you say you
           were?...Okay...He's gone.
           Okay...But you say he left the
           boy?...And your name sir?

          130 EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - EVENING 130

           The sun has been down for awhile. Juniper leans on the
           railing outside her room taking long drags from a cigarette.
           She sees Miller's green pick-up parked below.
           Suddenly the headlights pop on and the truck pulls away. She
           watches, curious, as it speeds out of sight.
           A train whistle blows in the distance but is overtaken by a
           semi rumbling down the street. She watches the semi pass
           revealing the DAY/NITE Gas Station's parking lot.
          A130 MUD STANDS IN THE CORNER OF THE LOT. Half lit by a sodium A130
           lamp, he stares up at her.
           Juniper raises up. Even in the dim light she knows it's him.
           She doesn't move.
           Mud holds up a hand, waves. Juniper slowly waves back.
           She tries to smile at him, but she's about to cry and it's
           hard to muster.
           Mud smiles. After a long moment, he turns his back and
           disappears in the shadows at the side of the gas station.
           Juniper watches after him.

          131 EXT. BLACK BAYOU - NIGHT 131

           The night sky is dark purple. An unnatural color.

           111.

                         
           Ellis is on his back. Eyes closed. His head jostles at the
           SOUND of THUMPING. More THUMPING. It sounds like the hood
           of a car denting in.
           His eyes open. He stares up at an absurdly full moon. It's
           so bright it totally silhouettes the tree branches overhead.
           The THUMPING continues. Ellis puts his hands on the edge of
           the flat-bottom boat he's floating in and pulls himself up.
           He leans over the side to see what's causing the noise.
           The water is jet black. The entire bayou pulsates. Ellis'
           eyes grow wide as the THUMPING reveals itself.

           THE BAYOU IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH SNAKES.
           The moonlight illuminates their shiny black backs as they
           twist and churn in what seems like one giant ball of snakes.
           Ellis lies back in the boat bringing his arms close to his
           chest. He flinches at each THUMP. His eyes squeeze shut.

          132 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - NIGHT 132

           His eyes open. Ellis bolts up in bed covered in a cold
           sweat. Mary Lee places a palm on his chest.

                          MARY LEE
           It's okay. You're okay. Just set
           back.
           Mary Lee guides Ellis back down on the pillow. Senior stands
           with his arm on her shoulder. They look down at their son.

                          ELLIS
           Where am I?

                          MARY LEE
           You're home. We got you home.
           Ellis takes a second to get his bearings. His mother lifts a
           glass of Sprite up to his mouth. He takes a sip.

                          SENIOR
           You had us scared son.
           Senior steps forward and kisses Ellis on the forehead.
           Staying close to his face.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)

                          (WHISPERS)
           I'm so glad you're okay.

                          MARY LEE
           The doctors gave you some medicine.
           You had a snake bite.

           112.

                         

                          ELLIS
           How'd I get to the doctor?

                          MARY LEE
           A man brought you in. No one knew
           him.
           Ellis tries to sit up in bed, but his mother stops him.

           MARY LEE (CONT'D)
           It's okay. You just need to rest
           up now. We can talk all about it
           later. Do you need anything? Are
           you hungry?

                          ELLIS
           No.
           Senior gently pats her shoulders.

                          SENIOR
           Come on. Let's let him rest.
           Mary Lee touches Senior's hand on her shoulder. She stands.

                          MARY LEE
           I'll be back in to check on you but
           just try and sleep if you can.

                          ELLIS
           Okay.
           Senior leads Mary Lee to the door.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           Mom? Dad?
           They turn back.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           I love ya'll.

                          MARY LEE
           We love you too Ellis.
           They exit the room. Ellis rests his head back on the pillow
           and takes a deep breath.

          133 EXT. ISLAND/SOUTHERN SHORE - NIGHT 133

           Mud and Neckbone shove against the back of the boat trailer.
           The wheels of the trailer rock at the edge of the bank's
           incline. Sheets of metal roofing taken from the shack Ellis
           and Neckbone dismantled line a runway into the water.

           113.

                         

                          MUD

                          (STRAINING)
           Almost there.
          The wheels finally turn over. The trailer rolls down the
          bank and splashes into the water. The boat shimmies.
          Mud and Neckbone follow the trailer into knee deep water and
          shove on the boat. A final push jettisons it into the river.
          They step back as the boat drifts out. A rope tied to its
          back becomes taught as it stretches from a tree on shore.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           The sun does shine on a dog's ass
           some days.

                          NECKBONE
           It ain't sunk yet.
          Mud smiles. He holds out his hand, which Neckbone slaps.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           I wish Ellis could see it.

                          MUD
           I know.
          Mud walks back on shore and collects his duffel bag.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           I owe you your end of the deal.
          Mud removes the pistol from the back of his jeans.
          Neckbone's eyes light up. Mud hands it over and Neckbone
          immediately notices a hole where the clip is missing.

                          NECKBONE
           Where the bullets?

                          MUD
           The deal was for the gun, not the
           bullets.

                          NECKBONE
           Shit.
          Neckbone begrudgingly crams the pistol into the back of his
          pants.

                          MUD
           I got one last favor to ask you.
          Neckbone sucks his teeth.

           114.

                         

          134 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - NIGHT 134

           Water gently laps at the side of Ellis' houseboat. The bayou
           is quiet.
           From the darkness, Neckbone and Mud appear in the flat-bottom
           boat. They paddle with their hands. Approaching in silence.

          135 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - NIGHT 135

           Ellis stares at the ceiling, unable to sleep. A TAP comes
           from the window. Ellis sits up in bed. Mud pokes his head
           in. He whispers.

                          MUD
           Ellis?

                          ELLIS
           Mud?

                          MUD
           Yeah.
           Mud pulls his body through the window. It's tight but he
           manages to make it look somewhat graceful. Mud takes a quick
           survey of the dark room. Ellis begins to get out of bed.

                          MUD (CONT'D)
           No, don't get up.
           Mud motions him back down and pulls the chair from the desk
           over to the bed. They speak in hushed voices.

                          ELLIS
           How'd you get here?

                          MUD
           Neck brought me.

          136 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 136

           Neckbone sits in the flat-bottom tied off at the corner.

           FROM THE TREELINE ON SHORE,
           All EIGHT of the Bounty Hunters sit hunkered in the trees.
           Carver squats next to a stump. He loads shotgun shells into
           a 12 gauge pump and motions for the others to fan out along
           the bank.

          137 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 137


                          MUD
           We got the boat in the water.

                          ELLIS
           You did?

           115.

                         

                          MUD
           Just now. Smooth sailin' from here
           on out.

                          ELLIS
           Good.

                          MUD
           Wish you coulda seen it.

                          ELLIS
           Me too.

                          MUD
           Didn't feel right leavin' town
           without sayin' goodbye.
          There is an awkward moment.

                          ELLIS
           I'm sorry `bout what I said.

                          MUD
           No. No. You were right to be mad.
           You were right about a lot of
           things. I'm the one that's sorry.
           I shoulda never gotten ya'll into
           all this. I just didn't see any
           other way around it. But I
           couldn't leave without you knowin'
           I never lied about being your
           friend. I never lied about that.

                          ELLIS
           I know.

                          MUD
           I don't traffic in the truth too
           often. But I did love her. I do
           love her.

                          ELLIS
           She loves you too. She said it.
          This fact still strikes Mud. He nods.

                          MUD
           I just made mistakes. We both did.
           This is a hard life to keep up
           with. You can't blame her for
           gettin' tired of tryin'.

                          ELLIS
           My dad says you can't count on
           women lovin' you. He says you
           can't trust it.

           116.

                         

                          MUD
           That's not true. Don't judge your
           life on all of our mistakes.
           You'll make plenty mistakes of your
           own, no need takin' on everybody
           else's. You're a good man Ellis.
           If you find a girl half as good,
           you'll be all right.

                          ELLIS
           You're a good man too Mud.
           Mud smiles.

                          MUD
           No. I'm not. But maybe from here
           on out I can be...
           A SHOTGUN BLAST rips a fist-sized hole in the flimsy interior
           wall. Mud, as if by reflex, yanks Ellis from the sheets and
           shoves him under the bed.

           BOOM. BOOM.
           Bits of sheetrock fall like snow flakes as more holes blast
           through the bedroom wall. Mud flinches with each shot. He
           covers his own head with one hand and the boy with the other.

                          ELLIS
           Mud?!

                          MUD
           Stay put! JUST STAY UNDER THERE!
           The SOUND of shotgun shells being slipped into the chamber.
           Mud gets to a crouch. Through the holes in the wall, Mud
           makes out Nelson, the fat bounty hunter, reloading his gun.

          138 IN THE DEN, 138
           Nelson finishes reloading. The riddled bedroom wall hangs in
           front of him. A door opens behind him. He swivels around.
           Senior, in a robe, rushes from his bedroom with a pistol
           leveled. He's met with a shotgun blast just above his head.
           Pellets nick his face. Senior hits the ground and elbows his
           way back inside his bedroom door.

                          SENIOR

           ELLIS! ELLIS!
           Senior screams, his voice cracking.

          139 IN ELLIS' ROOM, 139

           117.

                         

           SENIOR (O.S.) (CONT'D)
           (muffled through the wall)

           ELLIS!

                          MUD

                          (WHISPERING)
           Don't move Ellis. Just stay put.
           They just want me.
           Through the holes Mud sees Nelson approaching Ellis' bedroom.
           He runs for the window at the foot of the bed. Another
           shotgun BLAST throws open the door as Mud leaps out.

          140 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 140

           Mud crashes headfirst onto the edge of the houseboat grasping
           for anything to keep from sliding off. His hand catches a
           metal deck cleat. It bends under his weight but holds.
           Mud gets to his feet and is met by the tip of a rifle.
           Miller, the man from the cafe, stands poised to fire.
           Mud's hand slips to the back of his pants for his pistol.
           NOTHING. He looks to the flat-bottom tied at the far edge of
           the boat. No sign of Neckbone.
           Miller's finger curls around the trigger.
           SUDDENLY, a BULLET snicks through Miller's neck.
           Mud flinches. Miller's hand comes up to his neck but can't
           hold the blood running from it. He topples into the water.

          141 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 141

           Tom Blankenship sits in the folding chair on the roof of his
           houseboat. He shucks an empty shell from a HIGH-POWERED
           RIFLE complete with scope. The long suitcase from the photo
           in Tom's house sits open at his feet. It has compartments
           for the disassembled rifle.
           Tom quickly raises to a new firing position. He squints an
           eye, searching for another target.
          A141 From this vantage point, Ellis' houseboat is clearly visible;

                          A141
           partially lit by the two flood lights. FOUR other BOUNTY
           HUNTERS swarm the boat.

          142 INT. ELLIS' ROOM - CONTINUOUS 142

           Still under the bed, Ellis tries to hold his breath as
           Nelson's boots step into the room. They pause for a moment,
           before sluggishly struggling through the bedroom window.

          143 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 143

           Mud rushes to untie the flat-bottom.

           118.

                         
           A BULLET splinters the corner of the dock sending shards of
           wood into Mud's hand. He sees TWO more GUNMEN skirting
           toward him on the deck of the houseboat.
           Mud takes cover against the wall and finds the muzzle of
           Nelson's gun teetering out Ellis' window. He grabs the
           muzzle and yanks the shotgun free.
           Nelson, stuck in the window, looks up in time to take a rifle
           butt in the face. He falls back into the room unconscious.

           NECKBONE (O.S.)

           MUD!

          144 ON THE RIVERBANK, 144
           James, the man with the mustache, holds Neckbone in a
           headlock trying to cover his mouth. Carver stands with his
           shotgun leveled and fires at Mud.

          145 ON THE BOAT, 145
           Mud ducks as Carver's shot takes out a chunk of siding. The
           SOUND of boots rush up the side of the boat.
           Mud, gun in hand, jumps back through Ellis' window.

          146 ON THE RIVERBANK, 146
           Carver turns to Neckbone.

                          CARVER
           Let him go.
           James unhands the boy. Neckbone sprints into the woods.

                          CARVER (CONT'D)
           Come on.
           They move toward the houseboat.

          147 INT. ELLIS' ROOM/HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 147

           Mud gets to his feet, stepping over an unconscious Nelson on
           his way to the bedroom door.

                          MUD
           You still down there bud?

                          ELLIS
           Yeah.

                          MUD
           Stay put.
           Mud pops out of the bedroom into the den.

           119.

                         

          148 IN SENIOR'S BEDROOM, 148
           Mary Lee, curled under the bed, frantically dials the phone.
           Senior, propped against the closed door, uses his undershirt
           to dab the pellet wounds around his neck.
           Hearing footsteps, he cracks the door open. He sees Mud
           standing in the den. Senior cocks his pistol

          149 IN THE DEN, 149
           The front door is KICKED open. Mud dives behind a Lazy Boy
           as a Bounty Hunter fires through the doorway.
           The back of the Lazy Boy explodes in fluff and fabric. Mud
           raises up to return fire, forcing the Man back out the door.
           Mud crouches back behind the Lazy Boy. Unbeknownst to him,
           another MAN appears outside two sliding glass doors. The Man
           raises his rifle at Mud.
           One of Tom's bullets rips through the Man's chest and
           shatters the glass door. Mud flinches. Another Hunter steps
           into the now broken door frame. Mud FIRES the shotgun,
           blowing the man into the patio grill.
          A149 Mud can see Tom's houseboat silhouetted across the A149
           bayou. A muzzle FLASH sparks from the top of Tom's
           boat. This makes Mud smile.
          150 The Front Door kicks open again and more pellets shatter 150
           through the den. Mud raises to return fire.
           ONE SHOT, TWO, the third is a dead CLICK. He drops back
           behind the chair, out of shells.

                         

          151 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 151

           Carver steps across the plank onto the houseboat followed by
           James. Carver motions him around back toward Ellis' window.

                          CARVER
           Flush him out this way.
           Carver walks to the covered carport.

          152 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 152


           IN THE DEN,
           The Hunters at the front door continue taking pot shots at
           the furniture.
           Mud flinches at each new round fired.

          153 IN ELLIS' ROOM, 153

           120.

                         
           Ellis cautiously slides out from under his bed and crouches
           next to the bedroom door. He peeks through a crack.
           He sees Mud pinned behind the Lazy Boy. They make eye
           contact. Mud's eyes move to something behind Ellis.
           Ellis turns to see James passing by his bedroom window.

          154 EXT. TOM BLANKENSHIP'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 154

           Tom scans Ellis' boat through the scope on his rifle. He
           sees Carver creeping around the carport. He pans right to
           find James taking a position near the patio doors.
           Tom pauses, seeing Ellis appear at the corner of the boat
           just behind James.

          155 INT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DEN - CONTINUOUS 155

           The firing from the front door has stopped. Mud takes a deep
           breath, sets the empty shotgun on the ground, then rushes out
           the sliding glass doors as the men out front reload.

          156 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/TOM'S HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS 156

           Mud makes it outside, his back to James' leveled rifle.

                          ELLIS

           MUD!
           James and Mud both turn at the sound of Ellis' voice. One of
           Tom's bullets drops James dead.
           Carver appears at the carport end of the boat. He raises his
           shotgun toward Mud.

          A156 ON TOM, A156
           He snaps the bolt open and closed, but it jams. He jerks at
           the lever, looking up he sees Carver taking aim.

          157 ON MUD, 157
           Mud takes a running leap off the side of the boat.
           Carver FIRES.
           Mud is struck in the back by the shotgun blast. The force of
           the shot spins him in the air. He crashes into the water.
           Ellis screams.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)

           MUD!
           Carver approaches the edge of the boat. He stares down into
           the swirling dark water. No sign of Mud.

           121.

                         

          A157 ON TOM, A157
           Tom slaps open the bolt and yanks the spent cartridge out
           with his fingers. It BURNS.

                          TOM

           DAMMIT!

           ON CARVER,
           He pumps the shotgun and fires into the murky water. The
           pellets pepper the surface. Still no sign of Mud.
           Carver pumps the shotgun a final time, but before he can get
           another shot off Tom's bullet rips open Carver's chest
           sending him sprawling through the broken patio doors.

           ON TOM,
           He exhales, shucks the bolt once more. His eyes scan the
           dark water.

          158 ON THE HOUSEBOAT, 158
           Ellis runs to the edge of the boat.

                          ELLIS

           MUD! MUD!
           Senior exits the houseboat, pistol pointed. He sees Ellis
           and runs to him.

                          SENIOR

           ELLIS!
           Senior grabs the boy, keeping his pistol up. Ellis drops to
           his knees and Senior crouches with him, holding him tight in
           his arms. Ellis cries.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           It's okay. It's okay.
           The two sit alone on the edge of the houseboat. The river
           seems especially quiet now.

          159 I/E. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT/RIVERBANK - PREDAWN 159
           The sky shows faint signs of morning, a few streaks of light.

           ON THE RIVERBANK,
           The blue, red, and white lights from police cruisers and
           ambulances bounce up into the trees.
           A frenzy of Police activity swarms from the aftermath left on
           Ellis' houseboat. Men in wetsuits prepare a dive. Blanket
           covered bodies are wheeled off on gurneys.

           122.

                         
           Two of the Bounty Hunters, unharmed, sit locked in the back
           of a state trooper vehicle.

          160 ON THE HOUSEBOAT, 160
           Ellis, Senior and Mary Lee sit huddled together under the
           carport. They watch the emergency workers stream past.
           Senior wraps his arms around them.
           Ellis looks across the bayou to Tom's boat. Police
           flashlights bob and weave throughout. No sign of Tom.

          161 INSIDE ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT, 161
           A LOCAL OFFICER strings caution tape across the broken patio
           doors. TWO STATE TROOPERS hover over Carver's body.
           The Troopers step away and the Local Officer cranes toward
           the body. He studies Carver's face.
           Stepping aside, the Officer takes a cell phone from his
           pocket and dials. He turns his back away from the Troopers.

          162 INT. PINES MOTEL ROOM - NIGHT 162

           The phone rings in the Pines Motel. King enters from the
           adjoining room and takes a seat on the bed. He answers.

                          KING
           Hello...You're speaking to him...
           King listens. His face taut.

                          KING (CONT'D)
           He's dead?
           (a long pause)
           Okay.
           King hangs up the phone. He sits at the edge of the bed,
           overwhelmed by the news.

          163 EXT. RIVER - NIGHT 163

           It's dark on the river. Moonlight barely shows the ripples
           in the slow moving current. MUSIC from a country station
           slips out across the surface of the water.
           Galen's jambox sits next to a small lantern in his flat-
           bottom boat. His Helper snores, fully reclined, with an
           empty can of Budweiser resting on his gut.
           His feet are propped next to a tiny bell rigged to a line
           that disappears into the water. The bell RINGS.

          164 EXT. UNDERWATER - RIVER - NIGHT 164

           The river bed swirls inside two, distinct spots of light.

           123.

                         
           Galen, using his new diving lights, scoops a final mussel
           shell into the net before tying it off. He tugs at the line.
           It's pitch black save for the shafts of light projected from
           Galen's shoulders. He tilts the lights toward the surface.
           The line leading up to the bottom of the boat dances in and
           out of the high beams. Then...

           MUD'S BODY FLOATS BY OVERHEAD.
           Only his backside is visible. A cloud of blood trails from
           the holes there.

           FADE TO BLACK.

          165 EXT. ELLIS' HOUSEBOAT - DAY 165

           A WORKER cinches a thick strap across the deck of Ellis'
           houseboat.

          166 ON THE RIVERBANK, 166
           Ellis watches as WORKERS affix straps from his houseboat to a
           crane resting in the bed of a large truck on the bank.
           The SOUND of Neckbone's dirt bike rattles through the trees.
           He appears behind Ellis and parks.

                          NECKBONE
           Hey.

                          ELLIS
           You got your bike back.

                          NECKBONE
           Mud dinged the shit out of it.
           Neckbone takes a seat next to Ellis. They watch the workers.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           They're really doin' it.

                          ELLIS
           It's the law.

                          NECKBONE
           It's bullshit. They ever find Tom?
           The boys focus on Tom Blankenship's boat across the bayou.
           It sits vacant, covered in police tape.

                          ELLIS
           No. He's gone.

                          NECKBONE
           Your dad not here?

           124.

                         

                          ELLIS
           Said he couldn't watch it. He's
           pickin' me up in a minute. Got
           deliveries today.
           They sit in silence as the Workers exit off the houseboat.

                          NECKBONE
           Heard on the news. They still
           hadn't found Mud's body.
           Ellis nods.

                          NECKBONE (CONT'D)
           You think he's dead?

                          ELLIS
           I don't know. I hope not.
           The crane begins lifting up the houseboat. The metal wires
           tighten and the entire structure creaks.
           A sucking sound as the flotilla separate from the water. The
           boat hangs, suspended in the air.
           A HORN HONKS behind the boys. Ellis turns to see Senior's
           truck.

                          ELLIS (CONT'D)
           I gotta go. Come by the apartment.
           Help me set my room up.

                          NECKBONE
           All right.
           Neckbone watches Ellis climb into the bed of the pick-up and
           take his spot on the coolers. The sound of twisting metal
           shifts his attention back to the houseboat being swung over a
           flatbed semi.

          167 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/RIVERBANK - CONTINUOUS 167

           IN THE CAB,
           Senior glances at the houseboat being set on the flatbed. He
           puts the truck in reverse and pulls away. Not looking back.

          168 EXT. SENIOR'S TRUCK/IMAGES OF DEWITT - DAY 168

           Ellis rides in the back of the truck on top of the
           coolers. He watches the town pass by.
          A168 The marina junkyard. The Sonic. Downtown. A168

           125.

                         

          B168 EXT. FLEA MARKET - DAY B168

           Ellis and his father unload a cooler at the back of a tented
           flea market. A WOMAN comes out to greet them.

          169 I/E. SENIOR'S TRUCK/NEW APARTMENTS - DAY 169
           Senior's truck pulls into the parking lot of a newly finished
           apartment complex. The two-story buildings are modest.
           The truck idles out front.

           INSIDE THE CAB,
           Ellis grabs the door handle. He turns to Senior.

                          ELLIS
           I'll see you next week?

                          SENIOR
           Yeah.
           Ellis begins to get out but stops when Senior speaks.

                          SENIOR (CONT'D)
           Ellis? You mind your mother okay?
           This is a big change for her. She
           needs your support.

                          ELLIS
           Yessir.

                          SENIOR
           All right. I love you.

                          ELLIS
           Love you too.

           Ellis climbs out. He watches as Senior pulls away.
           He stands alone in front of the apartments, studying the
           surroundings. A busy road out front. A gas station and
           collection of stores. A lot of people and commotion.
           A compact car pulls into a parking spot one building down.

           Ellis watches as three COLLEGE AGE GIRLS climb out dressed in
           running shorts and t-shirts. Two are heavy set, the other is
           petite. They joke and laugh. One sees Ellis and waves.
           Ellis nods to her. He tracks them as they walk inside.
           Ellis smirks.

          170 EXT. MISSISSIPPI RIVER - DAY 170

           The river rushes past. A large motor churns the water.

           126.

                         
           Tom stands steering Mud's salvaged boat down river. He
           cranes his neck, seeing something up ahead.
           Tom kills the motor. Looking out over the bow, he's pleased
           by what he sees. His eyes glint, almost a smile. He walks
           to the small cabin and enters.

          171 INSIDE THE CABIN, 171
           Mud rests flat on his stomach on the cushioned bench.
           Shirtless, gauze bandages wrap around his chest and back.
           He's sleeping.
           Tom walks in and kneels next to him. Touches his shoulder.
           Mud's eyes open.

                          TOM
           Come on son. You need to see this.
           Mud, groggy, raises up. Tom helps him to his feet, putting
           an arm over his shoulders. Tom practically carries Mud
           outside.

          172 ON DECK, 172
           Tom and Mud slowly maneuver out the door and take a place
           near the front of the boat.
           Mud pulls his head up. Looks out ahead. The sight in front
           of him grabs his attention. He perks up.
           A tributary from the Mississippi river opens up into a vast
           stretch of ocean.
           Mud smiles, showing the missing tooth.
           Tom and Mud stand on deck as their boat drifts slowly into
           the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
           The End.

                          


Mud



Writers :   Jeff Nichols
Genres :   Drama


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